“If you don’t preach as if non Christians are there, non Christians will never be there, because they’ll never be brought.
If you preach like ‘it’s just us chickens here’ nobody will bring any ducks in. So you need to preach as if non Christians are there, you want to acknowledge that non believers are there. You speak very respectfully. If you’re doing this and everyone knows there are no non Christians there, everyone will be saying to themselves, “who is he talking to?’ But many Christians will say, “I love what this preacher is saying, but I can’t bring my non Christian sister in law because she’ll be offended or won’t understand.”
But if you preach to non Christians, respectfully, thinking through their natural objections and skepticism and speak to those matters, your Christians will feel comfortable bringing their non Christian friends, knowing they’ll be treated with respect from the pulpit.”
That’s from a Tim Keller Q&A that I found from a recent Resurgence podcast.
Keller is a master at preaching to two radically different audiences at once. I use this same approach – teaching a message but spending time in the message speaking respectfully to those who might disagree or see it another way. So many preachers only preach to the audience they have now, but Keller teaches us to also preach to the audience they want to have. I have been attempting this for years now and every Sunday between 25 – 35% of our attendance are non Christian and almost without exception, they tell me how surprised they are at our hospitality -both in the hallways and just as importantly, in the pulpit.