How to Write TASTY Sermon Introductions

Introductions…the invitation to the journey that you are bringing your congregation on. Good introductions need to arrest attention quickly and give a taste of what’s to come. I like to think of a good introductions like the FREE SAMPLES at stories. You get a taste, and if you like it, then you’ll stick around for more. In the same way, I good introduction will hook people in, and if you’ve got an engaging message, they stick with you on a journey.

There is no one way to have a good introduction, the trick is to find ways to disrupt peoples expectations. You want to try to make the ORDINARY EXTRAORDINARY. You want to present a problem to solve or a tension to manage. In this first post, I want to share with you four important elements to include in your introduction that will KILL. Every message that I’ve loved have all included these elements.

FALLEN CONDITION FOCUS//TENSION

The Fallen Condition Focus is a concept that I learned from Bryan Chapell in his book Christ-Centered Preaching. Chapell, writing from the reformed perspective, says that every passage of scripture addresses a fallen condition. The fallen condition could be a sin issue, a problem that needs to be solved or a struggle that the original audience is dealing with. Then the modern day equivalent is dealt with (ex: Philippians struggling with church unity, we struggle with unity in the church).

The updated version of this is the concept of TENSION that Andy Stanley talks about in his book Communicating for a Change. By creating tension in the sermon, you are asking questions to provoke interest, describing a problem, or introducing a dilemma that the Scripture is going to answer.

I use these concepts by discovering the Fallen Condition Focus, and using that dilemma to create tension in modern ways. If I’m preaching about Galatians, I know that the original audience is dealing with Judaizers that are telling the Galatians that if they don’t get circumcised then they are not true Christians. The tension from that would be this: “We add to our Christianity. We think being a Christian is about going to church, serving, being nice, and behaving well. But what if that wasn’t enough? What if we don’t have what it takes to be real Christ followers?”

INTERROGATIVE QUESTION

Haddon Robinson talks about the interrogative question in his classic Biblical Preaching. This comes out of the fallen condition focus. This is also where we make the transition into the rest of the message. The question can both create tension and serve as the transition into the body of your sermon. For instance:
  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is Evil?
  • Where do we go when we die?
  • When will Jesus come back?
  • Why are we afraid to ask God for healing?
  • How can I strengthen my marriage?
By stating the question, you are helping your people frame the question in their minds and cueing them to receive the answer. But there are time when we don’t want to ask a question, but to encourage and motivate. That is where a proposition or bottom line may be more appropriate.

PROPOSITIONAL STATEMENT//BOTTOM LINE

This is statement that sums up the sermon, or tells you what to do UP FRONT! These are best used for deductive sermons, when you put the idea or concept you’re trying to prove on top, and then break down your message from there. This is a clear way to explain your sermon. It prioritizes CLEAR over CLEVOR. It can also go toward the end of the message of an inductive sermon. For your listeners that just want the bottom line, the sermon in 140 characters.

OPENING ILLUSTRATION/STORY

When people walk into your church, they have a million things on their minds. They are thinking about what they have to do for work, bills they have to pay, washing their cars, etc. The challenge in your introduction is to arrest everyone’s attention and start to get them to think the way you want them to think. That is why I believe illustrations and stories are incredibly important to have at the beginning of the message. I’m not a fan of starting the message with, “Turn in your Bibles to….” because I think people need to have their minds and hearts prepped before we go to the Scriptures.

When these four elements are artfully interwoven in your introduction they can be powerful and capture the attention of your audience. In the next post, I’ll share some different ways to introduce your message.

How about you? What works best for your messages?

About Nithin 89 Articles
Nithin is a follower of Jesus, husband, father, and pastor. I want to see Christians humbly and compassionately engage culture with the gospel of Jesus to see personal and cultural transformation.

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