One of the hardest things for communicators is getting the plane off the ground and getting it moving in the right direction to engage the audience that they are speaking too. The opener for any sermon or speech is a essential piece to delivering an engaging and message. One of the statements about communicating that I heard Andy Stanley say many years ago that has really stuck with me is “It doesn’t matter what you say if no one is listening”. When I first heard that it hit me because almost every pastor or Bible teacher out there is preaching truth and wants to make an impact, but many are not because no one is listening.
My hope in sharing three ways to open a sermon are to just give a few examples of how to help you connect, so people will listen to what God has to say in your message, because that is what matters most. The challenge is so many of the pastors are not engaging their listeners and are missing the impact they could make in their communicating. Of course these are not the only three ways to open your sermon, there these are three ways.
- Ask A Question – After you introduce yourself, by the way always introduce yourself because there are hopefully always new people. Transition from the introduction of yourself to the question. You can even ask the same question two or three different ways but you want to create interest and possibly tension with the question you ask. Some ways that I would open would be:
- Have you ever…?
- Do you know someone who…?
- Have you ever found yourself…?
Depending on the topic I am preaching on helps me determine how I will ask the question. This question always lead to me turning the question on myself to make the personal connection with my audience so they can know that I am in the boat with them. For example “I know this is true in my life”.
- Share A Personal Story – As I mentioned in the first example I start with introducing myself and then move into the story. There are multiple ways to transition into the story, but usually I will use a transtion statements like:
- A few years ago when…
- Last week I was…
- When I was…
There many ways that you can shift into your story and it is a great way to grab the attention of you audience and help build trust and a connection as you move into the more intense section of your message.
- Make A Statement That Everyone Can Relate – It is important to know your audience and the culture, so you can leverage those things in the statements you make to gain the attention of your listeners. You will probably want to make multiple statements that are similar to reiterate the point you are trying to lay the groundwork. For example if I were speaking to on dealing with emotional pain,
- All of us have been through situations in our lives where the pain was so difficult we wondered if we would make it through it.
After I make a statement, I shift it to my personal life because I want to audience to be able to relate to me and build a connection, so I can take them on the journey in my message.