What a Good Sermon Introduction Looks Like and What it Does

Story Three. 

I was preaching on something and having a hard time getting it across. Many in the congregation had grown tired of trying to grasp whatever I was saying and were taking a brief nap. In the middle of my ordeal, 7-year-old Holly Martin turned to her mother, Lydia, and asked: “Mother, why does Doctor Joe think we need this information?”

I have loved that child ever since!

Every pastor ought to be stopped about halfway through his sermon and made to answer that question: Why do the people need this information?

Today, let’s look at the WHY of the gospel. Why do we need to be saved? To live for God? To spread the Word?

Story Four.

I tell a story—which is too lengthy for this space—of meeting with the disciples of an Indian guru who was attracting the attention of a lot of young people locally as well as throughout the country. I’d read up on their doctrine and knew that they taught God had lived on earth in human form in every generation since Creation. According to their guru, Abraham was God in the flesh, as was Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius and so forth. And, at the moment, the latest incarnation of the Living God happened to be that guru.

One night, in a confrontation with the guru’s disciples before a group of teens and their parents, I questioned this doctrine. “All those others you mentioned are dead and buried. But Jesus Christ came out of the grave and is still alive. That makes Him a zillion miles above all those others. What do you do with the resurrection?”

One of the disciples answered, “Sir, we don’t think anything that happened 2,000 years ago has any meaning for us today.” I answered, “Oh. So Truth doesn’t mean anything to you.” (Not the best answer, but all I could come up with at the moment.)

Today, I want to answer that question: What does the resurrection of Jesus mean two thousand years later? (And with that, I’m into the sermon.)

Your people need your assistance in getting into the sermon. So, start at the shallow end of the pool.

No silliness. Nothing trite and nothing about last Friday night’s ball game. The introduction to the sermon should be well thought out. It should be a lead-in to the points you’re going to be making in the sermon.

Throughout your preparation, keep this before the Lord. He has heard all the illustrations and introductions ever given. He even inspired a goodly portion of them! (smile please) So, ask Him. And keep your antenna out, looking for them.

And, if preaching time approaches and you have not been able to find a good introductory story or illustration—something!—leave the matter open-ended until a few minutes before the worship service begins. If nothing has presented itself to you by then, then, sending up a prayer for His help and the congregation’s response, do the best you can.

No one hits it out of the park every time.

This article originally appeared here.

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Joe McKeever
Joe McKeever has been a believer over 60 years, has been preaching the Gospel over 50 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian Publications over 40 years. He lives in New Orleans.

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