Missing the Nail

Missing the Nail

In the last post we began looking at the importance of conclusions to the sermon.  We reflected on two ineffective ways to conclude a message: the fail the plan and the “I’m out of time” conclusions.  Today we continue looking at ways that we could be missing the nail when we are seeking to drive home our point.

Failure to Land Will Be Missing the Nail

Landing the Plane

Landing the Plane

One of the metaphors for ending a speech or sermon is the landing of a plane.  I suspect that you have heard someone preaching how failed to land the plane.  In other words, he or she came to a point when people expected a conclusion (or maybe hoped for a conclusion), but the speaker kept on going.  This is one way you could be missing the nail when you are preaching.  One of the purposes of conclusions, remember, is to emphasize the main point of your message.  When you fail to land, your hearers will leave feeling like you “went too long”.  That is a common complaint about preachers.

Taking Off Again Will Miss the Nail

Several years ago I was traveling from California to our home in Michigan.  There was a snowstorm, with strong winds, blowing at the airport in Grand Rapids, where we were supposed to land.  The announcement was made to prepare to land.  “Put your seat backs and trays in the upright position,” we heard from the flight attendant.  I was looking out the window and saw the ground approaching, and was eager to get my wife home–she was feeling sick, and it had been a long day of travel.  What a disappointment it was when the plane, which had been on a gliding pattern, powered up and took off again.  An announcement was made that the landing had been aborted, and we were, instead, flying to Detroit, a three-hour bus ride away from home.

That was disappointing, to say the least.  A similar disappointment happens when people sense that it is time to wrap things up, and you “take off again”.  This usually happens when we forget to say something in our sermon, and figure now is the time to fit it in.  But know that this will detract from your conclusion, and you will be missing the nail in your landing.

We Don’t Close The Deal

Hitting the Nail on the head

Striking the nail

Salespeople know that it isn’t enough to present your product.  You need someone to sign on the dotted line.  Good evangelists know the same thing.  It’s not enough to simply present the gospel; there should be an invitation to respond.

Sometimes we miss the nail in our conclusions because we are hesitant to ask people to respond.  The response could be an invitation to respond to the gospel, or to get involved in the ministry of the church, or to support a new mission, or to give to a building program, etc. etc.  Effective conclusions drive the point of the message home.

The Discouraging Conclusion is Missing The Nail

When you end on a discouraging note, you are missing the nail in concluding your sermon.  Life is pretty complex for people.  There are many forces that pull at them, complicating their lives.  People come to church needing a boost for living.  Certainly the Bible’s message is full of hope.  When our faith is put in a great God, anything is possible.

I spoke with one couple who joined the last church that I served, asking why they were coming to our church.  They reported this problem of sermon conclusions.  They said that they always felt worse at the end of the sermons than at the beginning in the church they attended.  And one of the things that they appreciated about our congregation was the focus on God’s grace, forgiveness and love–especially in the messages.

I like this quote from a blog by Keven Ueckert:

The final words of the sermon should feel less like the end of a sermon and more like the beginning of a personal response to God. We should prepare our conclusions with the expectation that God will call people to listen to what He says and respond. Our conclusions should reflect our expectation.

We want people to respond to the great theme of our message.  We want them to begin to respond to God.  Give hope as a conclusion, and your people will respond positively.

In our next post we’ll look at positive, effective conclusions.

 

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