"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." James 1:22
I use a GPS app (Waze is my new favorite app) on a regular basis. The GPS's purpose is to help me find the best way to arrive at my destination. The end goal of a GPS is to help you arrive at the desired destination. The same principle applies to preaching. What is the end goal of preaching every week? Where are we leading people in the message every weekend?
How many sermons do you remember?
Have you ever been confused on how to apply the sermon to your life?
Here are 5 ways to Preach with the End in Mind:
1) Craft a "big idea" that captures the truth of the scripture(s) you are preaching.
It is wise to simplify the "big idea" into one sentence, instead of a paragraph. People can only retain so much information at at time. I was a Student Pastor for 12 years and this is absolutely true. I also believe it is true with adults.
2) Answer the questions of the audience throughout your message. The end goal of a message from God's Word is to answer the question, "so what?" or "what now?" As people are listening to sermon, they are continually asking questions. If you neglect to answer the tensions in people's lives with the message, they will tune you out.
3) Give Christians and Non-Christians an opportunity to respond.
An evangelistic church will speak to the needs of not only the Christians, but also to those who aren't Christians. At the end of the message, you have an opportunity for two responses to the message. For instance invite a response from Non-Christians by saying something like, "If you are here today and you haven't begun a relationship with Jesus, I want to give you an opportunity...." and then for followers of Christ, you can say something like, "if you are a follower of Christ, how will your life be different as we leave today?"
4) Invite people to join your sermon, rather than just listen passively.
Howard Hendricks said this about preaching, "A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews." Give people a roadmap that helps them listen actively to the sermon. For instance: "Today, we are going to be in the Acts 4, so please grab your Bibles or phones to join me." Then give them a few questions that provide tension: "Why does this matter to our lives today?...."
5) Land the "plane" with clear, compelling application.
The conclusion of a message should lead into a time of worship. It is where people are making a decision on what they have just heard. Many times, it is simply a time for everyone to gather their belongings and prepare to go eat lunch. Give people space to respond to what they have just heard is powerful. Be excited about the "so what" or "what's next" to the message, more than your introduction or funny illustrations. If the goal is life application, we need to give a crystal-clear, passionate call for people to respond to what the Holy Spirit is doing in their hearts.
The goal of preaching isn't information transfer. The goal is presenting the person of Jesus through the Bible by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What would you add to the list of preaching with an end in mind? Share in the comments below.