The Sermon in a Sentence?

Should the preacher be able to say his entire sermon in one sentence?  Opinions vary.  On the one hand, I’ve heard proponents argue, “If you can’t say it in a sentence, you can’t say it in a sermon.”  On the other, however, I’ve heard opponents suggest, “If you can say it in a sentence, why do you need to preach an entire sermon?”

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Belief vs. Faith

I found this illustration in chapter 4 of Martin B. Copenhaver’s  Jesus is the Question. Imagine you are at a circus. A skilled high-wire artist has accomplished so many marvelous feats that the audience has come to believe that he can do almost anything. The ringmaster addresses the crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, how many of you believe that this daring man can ride safely over the high wire on his bicycle while carrying someone on his shoulders? If you believe he can do it, please raise your hand!” If you were in the audience you might raise your hand along...

Continue Reading

6 Tips to Internalize the Sermon

One of my biggest fears in preaching is standing before the people on a Sunday morning and not knowing what I am going to say. I have been preaching on a weekly basis for 16 years. I am guesstimating that I have preached anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 sermons. I still get horrified that I am going to forget my next point, go blank on a line I want to communicate, or freeze on the sermon entirely. It hasn’t happened yet.…but I fear it could at any time on any Sunday morning. I also am adamant about eye contact. I...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: “It’s What You Do”

My approach to opening illustrations is to provide a smooth runway. I want there to be an easy and smooth and gripping take off, so a good opening is critical. If the take off is bad, the rest of the message can include a lot of turbulence. The preacher wants something to grab the attention of the congregation, leading them to want more. Recently, in order to help the congregation see the gravity of Luke’s nonchalant statement about all of Asia Minor hearing the message of the Lord (from Acts 19), I started the message with the following reference to...

Continue Reading

What Should I Preach Next? 5 Questions to Ask

Full disclosure: I am not the best person to help you figure out what to preach next. One, I am not very good at it. Two, I don’t know your people nor the needs of your church. Ideally, you would have planned out your preaching well enough in advance to the point that you aren’t stressed about what’s next. But even in ideal situations, there will be times when you will be faced with the task of coming up with a new series of messages or at least a “stand alone” sermon. How does the preacher decide what to preach...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Doctor Making Uninvited Home Visits

In order to challenge the congregation to build a relationship with the lost and searching for the purpose of disciple-making, I began a recent sermon with a hypothetical illustration about a doctor making a home visit. You can listen to the entire message here. Below is how I began . . .   What would you think of a doctor who made house calls? Not at your request, however . . . at his. He knocked on your door, told you he was a doctor, and wanted to talk to you for a few minutes. He asks if you have...

Continue Reading

5 Proven Ways To Make Funeral Sermons Personal

Pastors, let’s be honest. Church members, nor their loved ones, ever die at a convenient time. Sunday is always coming. Staff meetings are always scheduled. Appointments are on the calendar. Our children’s ball games and practices happen ’round the clock. Funerals don’t happen every week, but they seem to happen during the craziest of weeks. Am I right? But let’s also be honest about something else. Before, during, and after a funeral are when we have opportunities to be MOST pastoral. We won’t find a more ideal time when people we serve are leaning into the things of God than...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Sent Church vs. Sent Culture

Below is an opening illustration I used to communicate the difference of doing something just to say you do it, and doing something because it is a part of who you are. You can listen to the sermon here.   Tuesday of this week, I went to the dentist for my bi-annual cleaning. I am happy to report that I had zero cavities and have been cavity free for several years now. I was not worried and had solid confidence this would be the case. As a matter of fact, I practically strut my way into the dentist office. I...

Continue Reading

Sermon Illustration: Why Saying, “I Will Just Let My Life Be My Testimony” is Ridiculous

I hear many well-meaning, well-intentioned people say things like, “I don’t have to share the gospel, I will just let my life speak for me.” I have heard an ancient preacher (I have no idea who actually said this) quoted as saying, “Wherever you go, preach the gospel. When necessary, use words.” If you think about it, this one of the most absurd claims ever made. We don’t do that with anything else, do we? With anything else that excites us and is changing us, we joyfully talk about what that thing is. Think about it this way. You find a...

Continue Reading

Extending the Invitation

Hopefully, you don’t preach just to hear yourself talk. You want to influence those who listen to you. You preach because you’re called, and you’re called in order to make an eternal impact. Therefore, you don’t want to give a nice “talk” that people aren’t challenged to do anything with and forget about on their way to lunch at the Cracker Barrel. You want to invite them to respond. You want to give an opportunity for your hearers to react to what the Spirit of God is doing in their hearts as a result of the preached Word. Let me...

Continue Reading