WHAT YOU WILL LEARN IN THIS CHAPTER
- You will learn how to keep the attention of anyone who listens to you preach.
- You will be able to list the three parts of every sermon / lesson.
- You will be able to tell the difference between a lesson and a sermon.
- You will learn to make a simple outline.
KEEPING THEIR ATTENTION
Two men were ice fishing. They stood over an hour on the ice and caught nothing. However, they noticed that a man just a few feet away caught one fish after another. The two men decided to ask him his secret. They walked up to him and asked, “We couldn’t help but notice that you are catching quite a few fish. Could you tell us your secret? We aren’t catching anything.”
“Mmmmphph,” the successful fisherman replied.
“Pardon us,” the two said. “We couldn’t understand you. What did you say?
“Mmmmphph,” he said again. “We’re really sorry,” they said.
“We really didn’t understand that. What was that you said?”
At that point, the man spit something out of his mouth and stated, “You’ve gotta keep the worms warm.”
Keeping the attention and respect of any one group of people week after week is not easy. You can’t afford to be careless in either what you preach or how you preach it. You’ve “gotta keep the worms warm.”
In your sermon / lesson plan, you worked on the introduction, body and conclusion of your message. Now you will assemble them together into its finished form. I recommend you keep your sermon and lesson outlines. They are works of craftsmanship you have invested a great deal of time and effort into. It’s my belief that a message doesn’t get really good until it’s been delivered two or three times.
Often you will remember some points you made in a sermon you preached sometime in the past, so you’ll need some easy way to store them.
I use an outline to preach from, but I don’t get too concerned with following an exact outline form. You may choose to list the points down the page numerically. Or you may want to use letters. Find a form you can work with that serves the purpose.
In the introduction of your message, bait the hook. Spend a few minutes grabbing the attention of the congregation. God once used a burning bush to get Moses’ attention. In the introduction; tell the people what you’re going to tell them in the sermon.
In the body of the message, tell them. Build your message point by point toward your stated purpose. Set forth your major points. Let one point lead to the next or let each point support one major emphasis. Illustrations are windows into the truth. They let in light. While you have been planning the message, you’ve had the time to gather several good stories and illustrations. Use them.
Limit yourself. Be careful not to wander away from your topic. It’s easy to be drawn away into talking about something other than that which relates to your purpose. Limit yourself to a certain time, a certain subject, and your stated purpose.
In the conclusion, tell the people what you have told them. Sum up your points. Bring your thoughts to a logical conclusion. I’ve sat through a number of messages that had conclusions which had nothing to do with the message. Often we attempt an altar call based on the second coming of Christ when we never mentioned His coming in our message. Be consistent. Use an action step to prompt the people to do more than just listen. You may have the people come forward, lead them in some commitment to the Lord, or have them do something right then. A powerful action step makes the difference between a sermon and a lesson.
So there you have it: a simple, easy-to-use method of sermon and lesson preparation. Long-range planning, disciplined Spirit-led study, and careful work add up to effective preaching and teaching. You’ll approach Sunday morning with more confidence. You’ll find that you’ll be able to apply theological truths in practical ways. Your people will be able to make Christianity work better for them.
You have learned easy-to-use methods to organize your thoughts, build sermons and lessons, and store completed outlines. Now you must put it into practice. If you have been working on a sermon or lesson along with this article, you are off to a great beginning.