The Preacher's Hub: INTRODUCTION

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The military taught me a simple but valuable lesson about communication. When addressing an audience, they said, tell them what you are about to say, say it, then tell them what you’ve just said. 

It sounds a bit simplistic. However, do you remember the last time you listen to someone speak, how easy it was for you to drift off and lose interest? The speaker took too long to get to the point or there was no clear introduction or passionate invitation into the subject.

The introduction to your sermon should give the listeners enough information to motivate them to learning and immediately demand their attention. The purpose of the sermon is not the passing on of information but an invitation into your experience with God.

Most sermons are dead because they are focused on information and knowledge without the enthusiasm of God’s Word coming alive. You should never be concerned about finishing your sermon. Instead, make sure that those who are listening have received a clear invitation to be part of your experience with God and His Word. 

That is why you will often hear me ask the church, “Does it make sense?” or “Do you have any questions?” For me, people understanding God’s Word and experiencing His power, is far more important than me finishing my sermon. 

The way God gives you a sermon is diverse. There were times (very few) when God gave me a word just 5 minutes before getting up to preach. Other times it was 5 days before. Sometimes it takes months for the Word of God to settle in my heart first. There was one time, while playing volleyball, God gave me a specific word for a church in Romania I was going to visit, 12 months later. The preparation for that one sermon lasted about 11 months. 

I remember one time I struggled all week to have clarity regarding a text for Sunday morning. On Saturday night I went to sleep praying and asking God for a word. During the night God gave me a sermon in a dream. That morning, I got up and wrote it down, point by point.

Your preparation is important. This reflects your experience with God as you wrestle with the Word in your own heart. When you preach, you invite people into your experience with God. If God spoke to you and His Word affected you, touched you and moved your heart, I believe it will be worth sharing. 

All this should be reflected in your introduction. You do not have to take long to tell people how you got where you are and what you are about to speak on. Use that time, around five minutes, to relate to people: the subject of your sermon and why it is important to discuss it.

If you are preaching a series of sermons on a particular topic, Bible character or Bible book, use your introduction to recap what has been said. For example, I am preaching through the life of Abraham. The first few minutes are always dedicated to : the story so far. So, I bring the listener up to date, on the story. 

The introduction is a good way of building a good understanding of the context. Most of the epistles Paul wrote have some background in the Book of Acts. This is where your preparation on the context is important.  For example, if I preach from Ephesians, I try to remind people of how the church was formed. So I go, briefly, to Acts 19. This builds good context. 

Remember, your introduction is just opening the door for people. They still have to make that decision come with you into the amazing experience you had with God and His Word. 

Tags: Preaching Introduction Context Bible Communication Speaking Ministry

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