The way you begin your sermon is vital. It can mean the difference between your listeners checking out or deciding to pay close attention. The things you say at the beginning of a sermon are what your listeners subconsciously use to build a framework for your whole message. If your thoughts are murky and unclear, you're laying an unstable foundation.
The first 90 seconds of your sermon are some of the most powerful moments you have. Don't waste them. Your listeners decide within these first 90 seconds whether or not to keep listening to you. This is particularly true if they don't know you. But even if they do know and like you as a preacher, every Sunday is a new opportunity to engage them or lose them. And both engagement and disengagement happen faster than you think.
3 Must-Do's of a Strong Sermon Opening
1. Start high. When you step onto the stage to present the Word of God, you should be thrilled. You should revel in the privilege you have to teach people about the love God has for them. And it should show. Smile. Greet your people. Be genuinely energetic and enthusiastic about your content. Your listeners will never be more enthusiastic about your content than you are. It's your job to lead by example.
Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands does this well. One of the best examples is a sermon he gave on financial generosity. He approached a touchy topic with enthusiasm and energy right off the bat. This made the potentially controversial message more bearable for the listener.
Implicitly, your listeners are taking their cues on how to feel about your content from you. If you come out of the gate high with authentic excitement for what everyone is about to discover in God's Word, they'll follow your lead.
2. Start clear. Starting high only gets you so far. If you're energetic but fuzzy, your listeners will discredit your enthusiasm as lacking substance. You want to let people know exactly where you are going and why it matters. Part of clarity is tension. You want to build tension in the beginning to ensure interest in the content. I wrote about how to build tension in this article.
3. Start now. Time is of the essence because you need to capture people quickly. You may want to tell that hilarious story that has nothing to do with your content, but it can work against your ability to engage your listeners with your message. Avoid rambling and wasting time. Get to the point and get there soon while not seeming rushed or robotic.
In addition to opening strong, you want to avoid these four common mistakes when ending your sermon.
What are some other ways to begin a sermon well?
Lane Sebring is a teaching pastor, speaker and author. He leads The Current, a worship gathering of young adults, in Northern Virginia. He created PreachingDonkey.com, a site to help preachers communicate better.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.