It has been heartwarming to watch the outpour of love and appreciation for Billy Graham as he passed away a few weeks ago. It is encouraging proof that the clear presentation of the Gospel is still appreciated--when it is clear that the presenter is for you. You could not hear a word from Billy Graham without knowing in your heart he wants what is best for you and is trying with all his strength to bless your life.
Billy Graham is a witness to courage. He spoke with boldness and moved daily under the courage of his convictions. Billy Graham is a witness to clarity. In all his messages the power of clarity comes through. He never complicated the matter, knowing his hearer needed the simple truth to understand.
Without the Lord the world falls apart; with the Lord things come together. Without the Lord your life lacks meaning; with the Lord you can have purpose. Without the Lord you are destined to die; with the Lord you can know heaven and have eternal life.
It's that simple. That clear. And it takes great courage to make it plain.
Some years ago I stumbled across a research paper, someone's Doctor of Ministry thesis I think, studying all of Billy Graham's recorded sermons. The researcher found that almost all of them fell into a rhetorical pattern known as Monroe's Motivated Sequence:
Connection -- Let the audience know you are not speaking to them so much as walking with them in life.
Need -- State the problem as clearly and starkly as possible. Something is wrong, and we can't stay here like this.
Solution -- Offer the solution. What way out is there for us? God has provided a plan in Jesus Christ.
Visualization -- Paint a compelling picture of what it would look like to apply the Solution to the Need.
Action -- Now compel your audience to take a step. Act on this, right now. You may never see tomorrow. You may never return to this moment. Do it now! Billy Graham was a master at this.
I've used that pattern to shape my own preaching for years since I learned it. A preacher could do worse!
Thank you, Billy Graham. A man devoted to Jesus Christ. His ministry came from his heart. His humble posture revealed clarity and courage to proclaim the Gospel as an instrument of the living God. I will always be inspired.