Put Your Main Point First to Improve Your Preaching

Put Your Main Point First to Improve Your Preaching

We are learning from journalism how to improve our sermons.  The first of the posts on this subject is at this link.  In this post we will consider this tip from journalists: Put your main point first to improve your preaching for your hearers.

The Introduction

Writers refer to the first words of an article as “the lead”.  The lead is, in some ways, the most important part of the article.  If the introduction fails to grab readers’ attention, the journalist won’t have a job very soon.  So journalists spend a good deal of time crafting the first few sentences.  The lead needs to hook the reader.  When a person reads the first sentence, they should continue reading to find out what comes next.

If you’ve had any training in preaching, or if you have read this blog for the past few years, you know that the purpose of the introduction is twofold: to grab interest, and to introduce the overall theme.

It is easy to forget this when you are formulating the introduction to your message.  I preached this past Sunday, and my introduction didn’t do what I wanted it to.  I began with a too-long story about a woman who planned an attack on her rival for a man’s attention.  The Police arrested her.   They charged her with attempted murder after she struck her rival’s father on the head with a hammer.   At trial, they asked her why she did this.  She said that she tried to get revenge because she wanted “inner peace”.  I told the story, but it was too long to introduce the idea that people are driven to fine inner peace, and do many things to try to get it when the answer is bringing our anxiety to God.

This is the main point of this blog post: put your main point first to improve your preaching for your audience.

Some Suggestions for Putting your Main Point First

Here is one suggestion from a pastor who was going to preach on the challenge to continue with faith when we don’t understand what God is doing.  He began with a question: “Have you ever asked God questions, and then  felt you didn’t get a good answer?”  Right away, people could identify with that feeling.   (Haddon Robinson, “Good Guys, Bad Guys and Us Guys,” Preaching Today no. 80) .  God doesn’t always tell us “why?” something happens.

Howard Hendricks, a great educator/pastor of a previous generation, wrote a great message on failure (Howard Hendricks, “The Message of Mistakes”, Preaching Today, no 54).  Here is how he introduced his message:

Have you ever wondered why there is so much failure recorded in the Bible?  It’s obvious to even a casual reader of this book that its pages are strewn with the wreckage of men and women who have failed in their faith.” 

A mystery like this catches people’s attention.  And, everyone can identify with failure, if we’re honest with ourselves.

Note: these examples are taken from the book, Preaching That Connects, by Marc Galli and Craig Brian Larson.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: put your main point first to improve your preaching for your church, for your Lord, for the Kingdom.