Preaching is far more than giving out the information that we have prepared. In my opinion, the best preachers are those who are the best prepared; those who have given much time, with much private work before they enter the pulpit. However, the mode of delivery is not something that we can afford to neglect as preachers. In my personal experience I constantly evaluate my preaching, perhaps sometimes too much, but this is something that we need to be prepared to do.
While preaching in two congregations last year, in both sermons, I applied the sermon to different hearers in the congregation. At times I specifically addressed people and called them to respond to Christ, to come to Christ for the forgiveness of sins. I specifically addressed children during the sermons and I stopped and looked at some of the children in the congregation, to address them and call them to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. What struck me was that in both services, afterwards, someone remarked that they do not hear the use of gracious gospel invitations very often in the circles that they move in. Both comments were said positively and it set me off thinking for the following months.
Listen to the Lord Jesus Christ. Following his denunciation of Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum, he does not shrink back from preaching the gospel and in applying that message by calling people to himself. The doctrine of election does not cause him to shrink back from calling people to respond either (read Matthew 11:25-27). Listen to Christ in Matthew 11: 28-30:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We can use a variety of ways to apply the gospel but apply the gospel we must, in order to call men and women to repent and believe (Mark 1:14-15). These are gospel imperatives! Once I used the title of a book by John Bunyan to call people to Christ, the title is "Come and welcome to Jesus Christ". We must not be wooden in our approach, but gracious gospel invitations should be warm, passionate, repeated and with gravitas.
May all ordained ministers grow in applying the gospel to a lost and fallen world, not least by 'casting the net' to catch men, in a world in desperate need of forgiveness of sins through Christ alone.