"Come To Jesus"
This year I have heard and participated in the singing of 217/230 invitation songs — most of them following my preaching. As this is a typical year for meeting work, and I have a background of singing schools and the leading of singing, maybe I qualify to make a few remarks in the practice.
(1) There are no scriptures demanding such songs. They are a tradition of fairly recent origin, closely related to evangelistic-type services. However, they offer an orderly means of inviting a response to the gospel, and, until something better is invented, serve their purpose quite well. But there purpose needs to be understood so that they are selected and sung accordingly.
(2) They are practically a part of the sermon; and should extend, from the congregation, the plea for obedience that characterizes the close of the lesson from the pulpit. I do not mean they must be in keeping with the subject matter — although that is in order — but they should indicate that the congregation joins the teacher in concern and exhortation.
(3) They should be songs easily sung — that flow with sincerity from the hearts of the saints, with little concentration on the book for music or words. This is no time to try a new one or engage in fancy foot-work on bass or alto leads, skip and hop. This is certainly no time to sing the notes or hear special instructions from the song-leader. Encourage all to sing, Come to Jesus with the fervor and spirit of invitation — with a heart-felt prayer for the lost.
In my opinion the song-leader should avoid taking a position on the floor that interrupts the rapport established in the sermon between teacher and hearer. (The speaker works hard to instruct, and establish a frame of mind conducive to obedience. Then a song-leader stands squarely between him and the hearers, blows a tuning pipe, wildly waves a baton and races through a song few in the audience can sing. I have even had them stop and upbraid the people for their ineptness. It is enough to make a grown man cry.)
(5) The invitation song need not be a five-verse epic, but neither should it indicate a get-it-over-with attitude. Length and tempo should indicate a serious, meaningful concern for the lost and straying.
Above all, just stop to think what this is all about. Gods word has been proclaimed, and now the whole church joins in saying Amen! and in inviting lost souls to Jesus Christ.