One of the changes that have come with maturity is in how I develop the sermon introduction. More and more, the writing of my introduction is only coming after the sermon is written. That is how I was taught in preaching classes, but I didn’t actually do that for many years.
The SUBJECT or THESIS of the sermon is prepared first (or at the latest very early on). The thesis is not the introduction, nor is the introduction the thesis. By preparing the introduction after the sermon is done nor almost done, the introduction really leads into the sermon as it is, not how I project it to be.
There are several ways to introduce the sermon. (I gave a list of some 27 possibilities last week) The worst way is to apologize for something…
- "I really haven’t had time to prepare." (No need to say it, it will become painfully obvious as the sermon progresses)
- "Many of you know more about this sermon subject than I do." (YOU are the expert in THIS sermon…the form it will take, the ways that God has spoken to you through the preparation).
- Anything that belittles the hearers. That will shut up their ears faster than anything I can think of.
The introduction should help the hearer not only understand where you are going, but also why this subject is both important enough for you to preach on and for them to give their attention to.