What’s the most important thing about your sermon?
Is it the scripture you start with?
The introduction that gets the congregation on board?
The stories they’ll remember for the rest of their lives?
The exposition of the deeper truths of the biblical passage?
The application of those truths to real life?
Let’s agree that they’re all important. A well crafted and well delivered sermon keeps the congregation on the edge of their seats and reaches deep into their hearts to move, touch, and inspire them.
But if you read through the sermons delivered in the New Testament, you’ll see very little of the sermon-craft you were taught in seminary. Let’s be honest … the preachers played pretty loose with the scriptures and took more than just a little license with some of them. And Jesus, the master preacher himself, not once did he deliver an expository sermon. In fact, he rarely even referenced the scriptures.
So, with all that in mind, let me help you drill down into the question just a bit by asking you another question?
How can you measure whether or not a sermon was effective?
No points if you say it’s when the congregation files out and tells you how wonderful the sermon was … or files out with looks of consternation because you challenged them!
I contend that the only way you can tell how effective your sermon was is by whether or not the average person in the pew DID what you asked them to do.
And that answers the question about what’s the most important part of your sermon … what did you ask your hearers to do?
You say, “But people don’t want to be told what to do.”
Oh? And what are the top selling books, videos, etc.? How to’s. How to be fit. How to be wealthy. How to be a better husband, wife, lover, friend, boss, or leader.
We ALL want to be told what to do – we just don’t want to be threatened or cajoled or guilted or shamed into doing it. Tell us what to do and, if you’ve inspired and motivated us sufficiently, we’ll do it.
Which is why the most important part of your sermon is the Tell Them What You Want Them to Do part … but everything else is important because that’s what will inspire and motivate them to actually put it into practice.
You nailed it.
Every message should have “What’s Next? with Some email reminder during the week and a check up during the next weeks message!
I occasionally include homework in the bulletin. I think having a physical reminder helps although I now double down with social media