6 Reasons I Now Don’t Usually Begin with Greetings, Announcements, or Small Talk when Preaching

Let me start with a caveat: I don’t intend to demean with this post any faithful pastor and preacher whose approach differs from mine. I realize we can differ on this conclusion and still serve well together, so I pray you’ll trust my heart here.

My point in this post is instead to talk about a change in my ministry. Within the past year or so, I’ve made an intentional effort to avoid anything but getting into the Word of God when I first stand to preach – and here’s why:

  1. In general, we too often don’t use our time wisely in preaching. I’m not one who argues for a set sermon length (though I have written previously about the danger of preaching too long), but I do argue we must be wise stewards of our time. The Word must take first place, from beginning to end of the sermon.
  2. Good worship through song should prepare us to hear the Word—so we need to move directly there. The congregation that has had their appetite whetted for His message through strong God-centered praise worship isn’t much interested in other things at that point.
  3. I know our supernatural enemy will do everything he can to divert attention from the proclaimed Word. He’s sly, and I don’t want to help him any by not focusing on the Word as soon as I have the attention of hearers.
  4. Sometimes our opening lines are more designed to settle our own nerves in the pulpit, and there are better ways to do that than not get to the Word quickly. That’s one of the reasons I often start a sermon with a personal illustration that leads directly into the Word. I can calm my nerves and turn to the Word at the same time.
  5. There are other places in the service to do greetings, announcements, etc. I freely admit that finding that best place is a matter of debate, but I’m sure the beginning of the sermon is not it. You can, in fact, build announcements into a sermon as a matter of application: e.g., “If you want to work on understanding your place in this church as 1 Corinthians 12 describes it, we invite you to join us for this training in two weeks.” The application is fresh and relevant, and the announcement comes out of exposition of the Word.
  6. Ideally, the folks in my church will so want to hear the Word that they themselves don’t like any interruption—well-meaning though it may be intended—between worship in song and worship via preaching. I’ve seen that kind of hunger in other parts of the world, and I long to see it growing in North American churches as well.

Again, I don’t claim this is the only way to begin a preaching time, but I think it’s worth considering. What are your thoughts?


  • Art Fulks says:

    Thanks for this. I have felt this way for quite a while and have been consistently beginning the message with a sentence like: “I invite you to turn in your copy of the Scriptures to _______.” It has felt awkward in contrast to what others may do, but it keeps me focused…and I believe it helps them transition well from the singing part of worship without as much distraction.

  • mark says:

    I hard too many sermons begin “If you have your Bibles, turn to B C:V.” This got old after many years because it was always St. Paul’s epistles and never more than one verse taken out of context. If you look at the liturgical service, the homily comes right after the gospel. Thus, the preacher can begin with one verse of gospel just read or just how radical Jesus was for that era.

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    A song may actually not prepare the congregation for the sermon because the congregation often as not does not see the connection between the song and the sermon if there is a connection. in fact, a poorly-chosen song at this point can take the congregation in an entirely different direction than the one the preacher wants to take the congregation with the sermon. The song may end up as “filler,” something for the congregation or the band to do while the preacher organizes his sermon notes. If the sermon has been preceded by two or three readings from Scripture as is usually the case in liturgical churches, except for a brief period of silence for reflection, the sermon should immediately follow the second or third reading, depending upon the number of readings. With that exception, nothing should come between the readings and their exposition. The Scripture readings themselves prepare the congregation for the sermon. If two readings are used , a song that ties the readings together may be sung. In liturgical churches this song is typically a psalm, a portion of a psalm, or some other song from Scripture, or an anthem, based on Scripture. If a third reading is used, a simple alleluia or other acclamation of praise sung before the reading suffices. A period of silence for reflection after the sermon is reflected.If a song immediately follows the sermon, it can be like the birds in the parable, which flew down and gobbled up the seed that sower had sown before it had an opportunity to sprout. It is helpful to explain ahead of time why you are observing the period of silence after the sermon so the congregation can make the best use of it. We should not be afraid to use silence in our worship gatherings and should not be in a hurry to move onto something else–a song, a creed, prayer, and so forth. The congregation will encounter God in the silence as well as in the readings and our exposition of them.

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    Correction: ” after the sermon is reflected.” should be “after the sermon is recommended.”

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