Something fundamental to Christian worship is the preaching of a distinctive Gospel Message from the pulpit every Lord’s Day. This has been a good heritage from the Puritans (ever since the recovery of the Doctrines of Grace during the Reformation), but in the past decade has been silently losing its hold in our ‘modern’ generation.
There is such a thing as an Evangelistic or Gospel Message that is distinctively Gospel in thrust. This is not a message targetting ‘Christians’ in the congregation, but to target unbelievers in the congregation. Again, here is where a good foundation on Calvinism (Doctrines of Grace) helps; we do not assume that everyone in the congregation, especially the younger ones and ‘new’ Christians, are automatically Christians just because they profess to have ‘made a choice or willed themselves into faith’. Moreover, even for Real Christians, the message of the Gospel is a good and necessary reminder of our need to not take salvation for granted! That is why Paul preached “Christ and Him crucified” among the Corinthian believers (1 Cor 2:1-2).
Some observations are necessary here:
ML’s experience in a Brethren church in Melbourne surely showed how they got this practice wrong as they merely repeated the same message (nearly verbatim) every week in the evening service. It is also wrong to hear messages which are preached expositorily but given a last paragraph tag of the gospel call being called a gospel message. In this practice, the preacher is liable to wreck proper exegesis for the sake of building a ‘body’ for the lack of a real gospel framework (http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/gospelservice.htm is one article that condemns it for this reason. I agree with the warnings but disagree with its tenets for rejecting gospel meetings).
I find that Gospel Messages (personally) are by far the hardest form of preaching as it is to be persuassive, authoritative and clear on the Gospel. More so with us living in a Post Modern world. But it is not impossible. Calvinists have been strong advocates of a distinct Gospel Message preached from the pulpit, and sees the need of them in the light of our Lord’s commission to the church to make disciples.
Maybe the reason why Christians in Malaysia are so lethargic and many are encumbered by the world’s influence is due to the lack of hearing the gospel preached every Sunday? The Lord’s Supper only does so much to remember the event… it cannot replace the main thing which it points to; the Cross at Calvary and the Death of Christ for sinners.