I don’t think anyone became a Christian that night, and it’s not that surprising.
The passage was unusual, certainly, and I doubt if more than a handful of people there were familiar with it. But that shouldn’t really have been an issue because a good biblical theology would have been able to travel from there to Jesus quite plausibly, and with good effect.
And there was an appeal, and a prayer. So what could go wrong?
Well, how about not preaching the gospel.
The preacher preached about God, and knowing him, and the difference he makes. All of it true. He was trying to be engaging and unusual. All of it well-intentioned. He was trying to make a back-door connection between the longings and failings of his unbelieving hearers, and the One who addresses both.
But without the gospel of our crucified Saviour, it’s missing THE truth that explains all the others and shows why they are true too.
And we know that the cross is a truth which attracts as much as it repels, which is possibly why my winsome, building-a-bridge preacher friend was trying to walk round it.
It won’t do. Be as relational, hospitable, seeker friendly as you like – unless you lift up the cross, people will not come Christ. They will not properly see their need, or his magnificence. God’s justice and his love will both be out of focus.
Keep the vision clear before you as you preach.