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The Preacher's First Mistake

It’s based on the belief that “I’m the preacher. I’m speaking. You should listen.” That’s just a bad strategy. And it’s what gives way to the typical content-oriented introduction.

“Good morning. I’d like all of you to open your Bibles and turn to the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 37. Let’s begin reading in verse one … “

That’s the introduction of a preacher who starts with what they want to say. There’s no hook, no connection to the people who are listening that day. It’s “Here’s the Bible” (or “Here’s what I want to say”).

But what you and I know is that from the time of Genesis 3 until today, every single person has been afflicted with a disease — a sin nature that makes all of us prone to self-interest. We’re all only interested in learning about or listening to something that’s interesting to us.

That means that starting out a message without appealing to the self-interest of the people we’re speaking to is self-defeating.

If you or I want a higher percentage of the people who are present for a weekend service to listen to us, we have to force ourselves to do the hard work of taking an idea and connecting it to the hurts, wants, desires, needs, frustrations, problems, obstacles, fears, pains, etc. of the people who are listening to us.

When we do that, everything changes. For example, let’s rework the introduction for Ezekiel 37 using a hook that connects to a person.

“Have you been feeling dry spiritually lately? Have you found it difficult to connect with God? Do you feel like He’s distant?

“Or maybe you’ve been feeling lately like you’re just going through the motions of being a Christ-follower. You’re coming to church, attending small group, having your devotions, yet you still feel powerless inside?

“Well, if you’ve been feeling any of that lately, God has some good news for you today. He does not want you to remain there. In fact, if you’ll turn with me to the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, I think you’ll find the answer to what you’ve been wrestling with lately.”

The difference between those two introductions isn’t even close.