We have been exploring the importance of conclusions in previous posts. We’ve seen that there are many ways to do conclusions ineffectively. In this post we are turning our attention to how to bring your sermon to a conclusion in an effective, powerful and memorable way. There are a variety of ways to conclude effectively when you are preaching. In this post we are going to look at one of them, and we’ll continue with others in the next post.
Wrapping back is the best way to conclude effectively
What do I mean by wrapping back? Simply this: connect back to the introduction. When you do this well, people will be more likely to remember your message as a whole. Let me give you an example.
Story as Conclusion
For many years, Paul Harvey was the most listened to radio personality in the United States. Something like 27 million people tuned in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to hear him basically tell a story. He would tell a story like this one, about Helen Beatrix Potter.
Beatrix Potter loved the outdoors. As a child she would wander in the woods and fields of her home in England. Lichen, the seemingly little plants that grew on rock, especially caught her attention. It fascinated her that anything could grow on rock the way lichen did. So she didn’t just observe it; she studied it. She used her artistic abilities to draw it.
By the time she was in her twenties, she had become convinced that lichen wasn’t just a plant, but an interwoven community of mould spores. She wrote a scholarly paper about her observations, including beautiful drawings of what she observed through a microscope.
Unfortunately, it was the late 1800’s in England. Women weren’t accepted into the scientific world. In fact, someone else, a man, had to read the paper she had brilliantly written to a group of scientists. When it was discovered that Potter was a woman, her observations were criticized as incomplete. One prominent scientist even complained that her drawings were too pretty to be real science.
The Rest of the Story Concludes Effectively
Imagine preaching about experiencing God’s will in a surprising way, where you reach a dead end and a dream dies. Helen Beatrix Potter’s story would make a wonderful introduction to someone who’s first choice didn’t pan out. Many people experience dreams that die.
Paul Harvey would tell the first part of the story, and then circle back after a commercial break to tell the rest of the story. That’s what caused many people to tune in and listen. They wanted to hear how things are out in his stories.
Helen Beatrix Potter isn’t remembered for her scientific observations of mould spores. She’s famous for her written stories. About this time that her science was rejected and she was in her 20’s, she cared for a neighbor’s sick child. In order to entertain him in his convalescence, she would tell him stories. She wrote the stories down, and used her artistic abilities to make drawings of the animal characters. Those stories, especially her stories about Peter Rabbit, were published, and for many years were best-sellers in England and the United States.
When you circle back and tell a story like this as the conclusion, sharing the rest of the story, your sermon is like a well-wrapped gift. People will “get it”, and will leave with the truth of Scripture ringing in their experience. This is a way to conclude effectively in your preaching.
Circling Back Is a Way to Conclude Effectively
Coming up with the right kind of story like this is a bit unusual, so you most likely won’t be able to do it every time. However, you can circle back to the introduction as a way to conclude effectively when you preach.
This past week I preached about the church from Acts 2:42-47, the story about the early church being devoted to the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. I used the introduction of the children’s little ditty, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and there’s all the people.” After explaining the devotion of the early church, a good conclusion was to go back and invite the people to build the church together.
In the next post we’ll look at some other strategies to conclude effectively as a way to send your people out with your message ringing in their minds and hearts.
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