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Preach the Word


"If you don't strike oil in the first three minutes, stop boring!" (A.G.Mears).

Introduction A preacher must know how to commence and conclude a sermon.


A good sermon introduction will capture the attention of a congregation and introduce the preacher's subject or text.

Sermon titles A good title can catch the imagination. It can also be used in advertising your sermon in your church's newsletter or the press. Keep a title fairly simple. Consider these simple titles:

  • "Another Springtime" (represents Zech.10:1).

  • "Dig it and Dung it" (introduces a message based on Lk.13:8, AV).

  • "Seven Ducks in a Dirty River" (introduces Naaman's healing!)

Here are some titles suggested by biblical texts:

  • "Receiving Power" (Acts 1:8)

  • "God's Last Word" (Heb.1:1)

  • "The Friend of God" (Jam.2:23)

  • "From Stars to Sighs" (Psa.147:3,4)

  • "Pestering God" (Lk.18:7)

  • "In the Beginning" (Gen.1:1).

Here are some striking titles:

  • "Would you have chosen Barabbas?" (see Lk.24:16)

  • "Encounters of a Spiritual Kind" (uses an in-phrase)

  • "Divine Dynamite (introduces Acts 1:8)

  • "A Royal Scandal" (would make use of royal news).

The question you need to ask yourself here is: How can we use a sermon heading without appearing mechanical? You could kill the interest of a congregation instantly by announcing, "The title of my sermon is, 'God's Love for the World'".

Other ways of introducing a sermon
Aim to vary your introductions. Sermons are art forms. Make preaching an adventure. Learn from other preachers. Here are some ways of introducing a sermon:

  • Announce your text or title

  • Use a quotation or illustration.

  • Refer to an item of news.

  • Refer to a previous message.

  • Acknowledge the time of year.

  • Say a brief prayer - but without bringing attention to yourself.

Writing your introduction out in full at first will help your confidence. (Write your notes on one side of a sheet(s) of paper). Whatever you do refuse to apologise for yourself or for your message in your opening remarks. In the pulpit you are God's ambassador (2 Cor.5:20).


"Some preachers seem to be constitutionally incapable of concluding anything, let alone their sermons. They circle round and round, like a plane on a foggy day without instruments, unable to land" (John R.W.Stott, I Believe in Preaching).

Aiming a sermon
Have a sermon aim. C.H.Spurgeon said it is no use aiming at the sky when we have to pierce men's hearts. However, preach to people, and not at people. And don't use the pulpit as a coward's castle. Appeal to the mind, heart and will. James S.Stewart states that an appeal to the will is very important when the preacher proclaims the gospel.

Ways of concluding a sermon
Consider the following ways:

  • By recapitulation. Recap on what you have said and apply it (see Phil.3:1; 1 Pet.1:12,13).

  • By demonstration. Show how the teaching may be applied to one's life (e.g., by a story or testimony).

  • By illustration. Show how others have lived a truth out (e.g., George Müller illustrates faith in God).

Preach and believe for results
Expect God's love, grace and power to flow through your ministry. Then, take the Jungle Doctor's advice: "Hook 'em, hold 'em, hang on to 'em, humour 'em, and hit 'em!". In other words, press the message home.

A note on appeals
Don't be afraid of making a public appeal. Appeal to the heart and mind. But as a pastor don't overdo them - there is a danger that familiarity will weaken their challenge.

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Copyright © 2007 Vernon Ralphs

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