How to Preach and Convert Nobody

By Charles G. Finney

Let your supreme motive be to secure your own popularity; then, of course, your preaching will be adapted to that end, and not to convert souls to Christ.

Be sparing of thought, lest your sermon contain truth enough to convert a soul.

Make no distinct points, and take no dis­turbing issues with the consciences of your hearers, lest they remember those issues and become alarmed about their souls.

Avoid preaching doctrines that are offensive to the carnal mind, lest they should say of you as they did of Christ, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (Jn. 6:60) — and that you are injuring your influence.

Keep the spirituality of God’s holy law, by which is the knowledge of sin, out of sight, lest the sinner should see his lost condition and flee from the wrath to come.

Preach the Gospel as a remedy, but con­ceal or ignore the fatal disease of the sinner.

Preach salvation by grace; but ignore the condemned and lost condition of the sinner, lest he should understand what you mean by grace and feel his need of it.

Avoid especially preaching to those who are present. Preach about sinners, but not to them. Say “they” and not “you,” lest anyone should make a personal and saving application of your subject.

Preach no searching sermons, lest you convict and convert the worldly members of your church.

Avoid awakening uncomfortable memo­ries by reminding your hearers of their past sins.

Do not make the impression that God commands your hearers here and now to obey the truth.

Do not make the impression that you ex­pect your hearers to commit themselves up­on the spot and give their hearts to God.

Leave the impression that they are ex­pected to go away in their sins and to con­sider the matter at their convenience.

Dwell much upon their inability to obey and leave the impression that they must wait for God to change their natures.

Make no appeals to the fears of sinners, but leave the impression that they have no reason to fear.

Say so little of Hell that your people will infer that you do not believe in its existence.

Make the impression that, if God is as good as you are, He will send no one to Hell.

Try to convert sinners to Christ without producing any uncomfortable convictions of sin.

Make no disagreeable allusions to the doctrines of self-denial, cross bearing and crucifixion to the world, lest you should convict and convert some of your church members.

Admit, either expressly or implicitly, that all men have some moral goodness in them, lest sinners should understand that they need a radical change of heart from sin to holiness.

Do not rebuke the worldly tendencies of the church, lest you should hurt their feel­ings and finally convert some of them.

Do not rebuke extravagance in dress, lest you should disturb and convict your vain and worldly church members.

Avoid all illustrations, repetitions and emphatic sentences that may compel your people to remember what you say.

Avoid all heat and earnestness in your delivery, lest you make the impression that you really believe what you say.

Address the imagination and not the conscience of your hearers.

Make it your great aim to be personally popular with all classes.

Be careful not to testify from your own personal experience of the power of the Gospel, lest you should produce the convic­tion upon your hearers that you have some­thing that they need.

See that you say nothing that will appear to any of your hearers to mean him or her, unless it is something flattering.

Encourage church sociables and attend them yourself, because they tend so strongly to levity as to compromise Christian dignity and sobriety, and thus paralyze the power of your preaching.

If souls are converted in congregations cursed with such a ministry, it will be by other means than the preaching.

NOTE: It was claimed that sinners would in some cases grip the backs of the church seats when Finney preached on hell — their terror was so great.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” – 2 Tim. 4:3-4

How to Preach and Convert Nobody was slightly revised and may be reproduced and distributed.

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