Yesterday, I wrote about why we need to give more time to our conclusions when we’re preaching and teaching. Today, I want to talk about the importance of giving more attention to our introductions as well. In the past, I’ve written about how I’ve changed my introductions over the years – but I, too, need to continue to improve in this area. Here’s why an introduction matters:
- A strong, clear introduction says, “The Word of God is the foundation for this preaching or teaching.” It’s the opportunity to grab the attention of the listeners while also directing their attention to the Scriptures. Even if they don’t all accept the authority of the Bible, your listeners should quickly know you’re teaching the Word.
- It doesn’t take long for an audience to recognize you’ve not prepared well—and a poorly designed introduction is often a sign of that failure. As soon as they get the impression you’ve not spent much time in study, paying attention will be more difficult.
- In the first few moments of the introduction, our listeners will determine (rightly or wrongly) our own passion for the subject and confidence in the Word. When we’ve spent significant time in preparing, learning, and even memorizing our introduction, we can stand before others with greater confidence and authority. This is also why I often begin with a personal story I know well and can communicate personally and passionately.
- In preaching, ideally, the musical portion of the worship service has prepared the hearts of the people to hear and obey the Word of God—and the sermon introduction builds on that foundation. Everything prior to the preaching ought to make people ready to hear – and a poor introduction can counter all the previous preparation.
- Many of our listeners carry baggage from life, and their attention is often focused elsewhere. They may want to listen, but their burdens grab them and overwhelm them. Quickly drawing them into a sermon or a lesson takes intentionality and planning.
- A good introduction states the central truth of the biblical text and lets the hearers know why that teaching is relevant to their lives. Listeners will pay more attention if they quickly learn that the point of the sermon or lesson speaks clearly to their lives. In that sense, application begins with introduction.
- An introduction that’s too long ultimately takes away time for teaching the Word. When I do preaching coaching, I ask preachers to see how long it takes them to get to the Word once they’ve stepped into the preaching or teaching role. Often, they’re surprised by how much time they spend in the introduction – and they learn why they’re sometimes rushed at the end of a sermon or lesson.
For two days now, we’ve talked about conclusions and introductions. Which do you find easier? What struggles have you faced? What preparation steps have worked for you?