FORT WORTH, Texas — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will offer the course Evangelistic Preaching, with a focus on offering a gospel invitation, co-taught by Chancellor O.S. Hawkins and Interim Provost Matt Queen, on Monday evenings during the fall 2023 academic semester.
“Instead of just letting the invitation remain the same for every passage someone preaches, we want to teach how to let the text drive the invitation,” said Queen. “We’re going to teach how to form the invitation based on the genre of Scripture, what the gospel cues are, and the audience that is being preached to so that it is a specific experience for the context one is preaching in.”
Queen noted the class is “not just for one specific group of pastors.”
“We envision having many different people being impacted by this class like a pastor who doesn’t know how to include a well-thought-out invitation or even an evangelist who will be preaching God’s Word on a weekly basis,” he explained.
In addition to the Bible, the main textbook for the course is Hawkins and Queen’s newly released book, The Gospel Invitation. With this book, students will gain what Queen describes as the first book to his knowledge that “includes practical steps on how to develop a sermon with a Gospel invitation included.” The Gospel Invitation will also be the giveaway item from Southwestern during the Pastors’ Conference at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“There have been a number of books written over the last 30 years, but there have been no books that give a ‘how to’ guide for preaching an invitation,” said Queen. “None of those books give an exercise to be able to give a good invitation and that this what this class is going to do.”
The course is offered in-person, allowing a student to learn in a traditional classroom setting, and also using a flexible format, which allows students to join class live via Zoom or watch the recorded videos of the lectures at their availability during the week. Students who attend this class, whether in person or online, will learn about the basis of biblical preaching and why it is important to not only include an invitation, but include an invitation in the sermon, not as a plug-in at the end of the sermon.
“Some people use the same invitation at the end of every sermon,” said Queen. “They can say it frontwards and backwards because they have used it so often.” Queen said he wants to help pastors and preachers learn how to “prepare and preach the invitation as a part of the sermon” and not as an add-on.
Hawkins and Queen bring years of preaching experience to the classroom. Hawkins, who retired as the president and CEO of Guidestone Financial Resources in March 2022, served as pastor of churches in Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas, including as the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas from 1993-1997. Queen served as a pastor of several churches in his native North Carolina before joining the faculty of Southwestern Seminary in 2010.
Queen encourages those who are current students to consider taking the Evangelistic Preaching class, and also recommends those who are not enrolled as a Southwestern student to audit the course. Auditing a course is a way for those who are not enrolled in classes at the seminary to attend the class and still learn without receiving course credit.
Queen said outside of simply attending the class in person or watching online, there are some pastors who have indicated they hope to meet in groups with other pastors to discuss the class together. He added he and Hawkins hope that pastors are invigorated by the class and encouraged to think through how they can include a Gospel-centered invitation in their sermons.
There will also be multiple guest lecturers involved in the teaching of the course to help provide “more experience and practical advice” for those enrolled in or auditing the course, Queen said.
One aspect of the course will cover how one can identify the “Gospel cues” in every text one could preach, according to Queen. The course will be helping the students think through how the Gospel can be applied to the various passages in the Bible that may seem more difficult.
Queen also said that there will be an entire section of the course that will be dedicated to the preparation of the sermon and invitation through the study of God’s Word, and how to prepare for the preaching of the sermon through prayer.
This course is for all kinds of preachers and pastors so they will be able to fully understand the need for a Gospel-centered, text-driven invitation, Queen said. With the flexibility of class delivery offered by Southwestern Seminary, full-time students who are both in-person or online, part-time students, and even professionals who are wanting to be trained more in this way will be able to participate in this class.
Registration is open for the fall semester at Southwestern Seminary allowing current students to register for the course. Those interested in auditing or taking the course for credit may begin their application to the seminary.