When you are beginning a sermon, of course before deciding on any introduction technique, you must ask, "What am I trying to do in this introduction?" There are several possibilities as I will share later.
AFTER YOU HAVE DECIDED THE PURPOSE of the introduction, then you begin to ask, how best to reach that purpose. One suggestion is to use the acrostic SPACES in thinking about possible technique.
S-Ask for a SHOW of hands–then react to the response.("If you knew that you could share the gospel confidently with your family, would you be willing to practice three techniques found in scripture? May I see a show of hands? I see that more than half of you responded positively. I want to tell you this morning of three principles found in the New Testament book of…")
P -PROMISE the congregation something in the opening of the sermon. It whets their appetite.
A-Begin with an ANALOGY (I heard Robert Shannon use the pre-take off talk in on a commercial airplane as an analogy for the strengths and weaknesses of many introductions. While this was not a SERMON introduction, it makes the point.)
C-Arouse suspicion or CURIOSITY. The old Paul Harvey technique of weaving a story without revealing who it is about (as he says, "The REST of the story") used this well. You don’t reveal the identity of the person on whom the story is centered until the end of the introduction or even later in the sermon.
E– Use an EXHIBIT or demonstrate something(I have secured a casket key for a mortuary that occasionally I have used in a sermon on death or resurrection. After asking what they believe the key is, sometimes I will tell them right away; other times I will hold onto the key and reveal it later. Usually it has something to do with the key to life and death.)
S-Begin with STATISTICS or the testimony of an expert. This can be startling and attention grabbing. Last Sunday I began with statistics on how many Americans of whatever faith pray at least once a day (65%) and how many pray two or more times a day (35%). I am not a Southern Baptist, but I also included the statistic that over 95% of all Southern Baptist teens say that they pray at least once a day. I used that as a lead in to a sermon on the importance of corporate prayer in addition to private prayer.
There are other ways to do this effectively, of course. I will be sharing more on sermon introductions over the next several days.
And that is not an April Fools joke.