My week began with the news that John Bisagno,
Bro. John was one of the first men in ministry that I admired. I had a chance to speak to him a time or two through the years but I had no relationship with him whatsoever. I was drawn to him because like me he was a good-sized man. Jerry Vines ran miles every day and his physique showed it. O.S. Hawkins looked like a movie star with fancy suites and perfect hair. Dr. John Bisagno, however, I could identify with. I soon learned that few pastors in the 1970’s and 80’s could match his success. First Houston added over 22,000 members during his tenure, baptizing over 15,000 people.
In a day when much conversation is taking place about women in our convention, Bro. John was a champion of women serving the Lord through ministry. Dr. Bisagno was also a pioneer in worship and praise teams. I have several books by John Bisagno such as, Power of Positive Praying, Power of Positive Preaching to the Lost, Principle Preaching. However, Power of Positive Evangelism is my favorite Bisagno book.
The Power of Positive Evangelism is written for the purpose of helping conduct revivals. I recommend every pastor, who gives a public invitation, to buy the book turn to chapter two and read about the invitation. I won’t reproduce the chapter but some of his instructions about giving an invitation I have attempted to follow are:
1. Be Specific – never assume the audience knows what you want them to do.
2. Give it urgently – Jesus always called for action today. Bisagno says never speak of tomorrow in your invitation.
3. Get into the invitation – A sharp break between the sermon and the invitation can destroy all that has led up to that moment. How many pastors have you heard stand at the front following a powerful sermon and say, “What’s our hymn today?” Never use a song for an invitation that people are not familiar with. Through the years I have settled on a few invitation songs and that is all we use. Right now, we use “Give Me Jesus” exclusively as our invitation song. I end the sermon by introducing “Give Me Jesus” and attempt to flow from the sermon to the invitation seamlessly.
4. Give the invitation prayerfully – the invitation certainly is prayed over before the service begins but the minister should continue to talk to God during the invitation.
There are several other suggestions Dr. Bisagno gives in this chapter. I encourage you to get the book and take in all his advice on giving an invitation. When I read the chapter, I knew that I had failed to plan for the invitation, all of my focus in preparation was on the sermon. I regret I pastored a few years before finding Bro. John’s invitation advice.
Let me end by saying one thing that stinks about growing old is the people you admired in your youth all begin to pass away. Dr. John’s works will have to follow him to glory because I and countless others will follow this sage’s advice.