What’s in this Episode?
Every week you start with a blank page. You’ve got to figure out, what’s the hook? What’s the illustration? What’s the thing that’s going to get people on the same page as you prepare for the Word of God to be delivered to people. So as you’re putting that together, and as you prepare to deliver that on every weekend, what is it that’s going to help people get prepared for the Word of God that you are going to deliver to them? Well, in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about some tips and ideas to how to make that introduction part of your sermon, powerful and effective.
Read the Transcript
Jonathan Hardy 0:35
So a couple weeks ago, I was preaching at a church in Kansas and I did something kind of different that was kind of a fun thing for the sermon. And at the beginning of the sermon, I actually showed this video, which was a hilarious video of this man chasing a pheasant that he shot with a bow and arrow, but the pheasant didn’t die. So the arrow’s in the pheasant, the pheasant is running around, and the guys chasing it, trying to get it.
Dick Hardy 1:03
So he’s got his bow with him.
Jonathan Hardy 1:05
I mean, yeah, his compound bow. And what he ends up doing is throwing the bow at the pheasant, hits the pheasant, and that’s what knocks the pheasant out and just this goofy video really funny. And I showed it to you.
Dick Hardy 1:18
It had a profound impact on my life.
Jonathan Hardy 1:21
Well you laughed!
Dick Hardy 1:22
I did laugh.
Jonathan Hardy 1:22
And you still remember it!
Dick Hardy 1:23
I still remember it. Yeah. And my mom loved it, too. So the whole deal.
Jonathan Hardy 1:27
Yeah, so that was a fun thing. But, you know, today we’re going to be talking a little bit about the whole concept of sermons and the introductions to sermons. So why don’t you jump in?
Dick Hardy 1:37
Well, you’re the resident expert here, Jonathan, with that message you did over in Kansas. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna play a little bit off of that, and really try to drill in on the real life experience that this preacher just walks through, as he prepared to preach over in Kansas. So, you know, The Lord has laid something on your heart for what you felt like you wanted to preach. So, you know, you had to get into this. I mean, what do you think is a good component of a good intro? You know, you obviously did something that was funny in that case, but what’s, in general, the components of a good intro?
Jonathan Hardy 2:16
Well, I think, I think something lighthearted always is helpful, because everyone is coming in from a different place. Yeah, you know, you don’t know the things that happened in the week for people. And, you know, hopefully, the time leading up to the moment when you get up on stage to speak is preparing people’s hearts. But I think there’s that aspect of just, you know, making something fun, or doing something that helps people helps to identify with where people are at, because everyone’s at different stages of life. Some people are solid in the faith, some people are brand new to their faith, and then you have everywhere in between. And so you want to be able to meet people where they’re at that are using things that are relevant to society. You know, I was in Kansas, I mean, this area was… the church I was a part of talk to the pastor ahead of time, and I asked him and he said hunting is a big big thing. Yeah. So I was like, well, this would be perfect. This is going to meet them where they are, of course, for me as a guest, obviously, you’re the most of us probably listening to this, you’re speaking to your same congregation every week, but I was a guest speaker. So obviously a little bit different. So I needed to do a little extra to be able to build that rapport and have some fun, and then get them ready. So light hearted, is always a good thing, if possible. Another option would be another good component to answer your question would be the relevance to where they are in life to be able to meet them where they’re at, and identify with them. So that way you can take them from where they are, and then move them to where you want them to go with the ultimate call to action at the end.
Dick Hardy 3:44
Yeah, you know, I’m sure Andy Stanley would be pleased to know that you feel that humor piece is important. I can’t remember which book it was he talked about, but you you need people to smile. And so obviously, with that one, you did,
Jonathan Hardy 3:57
Yeah, we have some good laughs.
Dick Hardy 3:59
Okay, so let me ask you, in that case, you used an illustration with your intro. Would you always use an illustration with your intro?
Jonathan Hardy 4:06
Well, you know, it probably depends on what you’re going to be preaching on. However, I think when you can, it helps. And, again, going back to the fact that everyone’s on a different part of the journey and their faith. And some people, you know, some people are just ready for the Word of God right out of the gate, they’re ready to open the Bibles and let’s crack in. Other people, they had a hard week, and they just have a heavy heart. They’re just, you know, a lot on their mind. And so having that illustration can kind of help, you know, just connect with them first. So that way you can tie that to then whatever you’re going to be talking about. So I think when you can, but it doesn’t have to be an illustration, could be a joke, could be a funny video, you know, like we did, like I did, you know there’s a lot.
Dick Hardy 4:51
Where’d you find that? I mean, did you literally just Google that or do you have some sort of a subscription service where you got it from?
Jonathan Hardy 4:58
Well, so that was straight off Youtube, and I had someone actually help me find it. Oh, we solicited some help.
Dick Hardy 5:05
Therefore, solicit help, whenever you can.
Jonathan Hardy 5:06
Yeah, well, we’re, you know, we’re a big fan of building a team for your sermon development. And so, you know, we had a team ready to go in the past to be able to help, you know, with some of those components, because I was like, hey, let me know, help me, this is what I’m looking for. Because I’m not a funny guy. Like, I’m just not, it’s just, you know. I know you think I’m very funny, you know, just by nature. That’s not, that’s not me. So I need things like that, like the video, those supplemental things to kind of help. Because I’m not the guy up cracking jokes, I’m just kind of want to just tell you how it is. So that’s why I needed something like that, to kind of help. So anyway, that’s how I found it.
Jonathan Hardy 5:19
How do you know if your intro’s any good?
Jonathan Hardy 5:47
Well, take a swing and find out!
Dick Hardy 5:51
Might be a swing and miss, but take the swing!
Jonathan Hardy 5:53
Yeah, well, you do, you have to take the swing. I know, I think for me, I’ve grown in my confidence. And I’m just like, hey, you know what, I’m just going to do it. I don’t care if people think it’s cheesy, or I’m just going to embrace what it is, and we’re just going to roll with it. And if it is, if it’s going to give a good clear path from, you know, illustration into whatever we’re gonna be talking about for the day, then, you know, it works. And you know, there could be something better out there. But I think for me, I’ve just decided, you know, what, I’m just gonna go with what I know, with what comes to mind, obviously, you’re in your preparation, you’re thinking it through, you’re gonna figure it out, and like, well, what you know, what could I do. Oh, this could be a good idea. So you just have to go with it. And you know, certainly pray about it and see if it’s the right thing that’s gonna be able to meet meet with people, you don’t want to do things that would be, you know, alienating people or offensive on something that’s going to then all of a sudden, you’re going to turn them off because they’re, you know, stuck on your intro the whole time, though, you know. And so you have to obviously think through all that.
Dick Hardy 6:55
So what do you think is critical to every sermon intro? Now, I don’t know if that’s too broad of a question, but I’ll throw to you, you know, what’s something critical that you would say to preachers, you got to have this for every sermon intro?
Jonathan Hardy 7:10
Well, I think you have to get people on the same page. So, like I mentioned earlier, some people, they’re ready for the Word of God, other people, tough week, and they’re distracted, they’re on their phones. You know, they’re checking their email, they’re scrolling on Facebook, and you’re sitting here in church service, or you’re trying to get everyone on the same page, you want it, you want to try to capture their attention, which is an unfortunate thing, but for a lot of people we have to… part of it is we have to capture their attention because of the distraction. You know, it’s so much easier if it’s kind of a dry start, you know, well, it’s easy, just naturally, people pull out their phone, and you know, they just start daydreaming or whatever. So you got to capture the tension. And then you want to get them on the same page. So that way, no matter what their week was, like, no matter where they’re at in their walk with God, we kind of can get everyone on the same page and be like, okay, well, here’s kind of this foundation, that we’re going to then move from that illustration foundation into the content for the message.
Dick Hardy 8:12
No, that’s good. That’s good. Well, I mean, that’s almost a summary. Is there anything else you’d say in summary of the importance of the beginning of a sermon?
Jonathan Hardy 8:21
Well, I just think it is very, very important. And I think, you know, a lot of times, you know, pastors need to really give some attention to it. It’s easy to jump straight to the content. And the Word of God itself will speak to the hearts of people. Yeah, but the sermon intro, we’re human beings, and not every human being is wired the same way. And so for some people, they need that attention grabbing thing to really help engage them, just because they’re sitting in the seats or pews, or wherever you have in your church, your sanctuary or auditorium, just because they’re there doesn’t mean that they’re like, really wanting to dig into the word, some people are there, because they just think that’s the right thing you’re supposed to do, or because they want to bring their kids and so they’re just gonna drop the kids off and sit there. And then other people are there because they’re hungry for God’s word. And so that’s where just getting everyone on that same page is so helpful. And so I think it’s very important to think it through. I also think, and we didn’t really talk a lot about this, but thinking through how can you be creative and not do the same thing all the time? Because you know, it can get mundane. You know, but if you start trying to use creativity, use props didn’t even talk about that, but in the message I did, actually, I had a bow and I had some arrows to illustrate throughout the message, because I wanted that visual. And, interestingly enough, I actually preached a variation of the sermon I just did a couple weeks ago, about five years ago. And I still to this day, literally, a couple days ago, I was talking with a guy. He’s new to my life group. And he was there five years ago, at that message. And he was like, oh I remember when you preached that! And I was like, yeah, I don’t think he remembered what I talked about, but he remembered the visual. And you know and the whole concept so you know, hopefully maybe there was something out of it that’s stuck in his mind. I have another person I know that they said they still remember that message. And that’s not to toot my own horn. It’s to toot the horn of the the visuals. And our hope as the communicator is that that visual is the thing that sticks in their mind. And then it’s the, what’s the word? It’s the association. So they associate, oh, I remember that illustration. And now I associate that with whatever the teaching was. Whatever God did in their hearts at that moment.
Dick Hardy 10:36
That is good. That is good. Yeah, Jonathan, this has been very helpful. And to restate to our viewers and listeners, this is the first of a three part series we’re doing. So we just talked about the intro. In the next podcast, we’re gonna be talking about the body of the message. And then the last, the third part, we’re going to talk about the conclusion. So our resident expert here is going to walk us through all these things. And we hope you find these helpful.
Dick Hardy 11:02
I also want to mention to you that yesterday, we just opened up the brand new track in Church University, you know that leaders.church and Church University have a partnership, and Church University… we’ve opened the preaching track, which is a comprehensive course, that will help any preacher get better at preaching. We’re covering everything you can possibly think of. We start with the basics, the fundamental what is preaching, we talked about sermon ingredients, we talked about planning, we talked about putting it together, we talked about delivery of it. And we talked about the call and the response, everything is in there. And so we’ve got the course in there, all the videos, we have discussion guides for all of them, for you to use for yourself. And if you happen to have maybe another staff member or two who preach on your team, or maybe a youth pastor who speaks to the youth on a regular basis, not to the auditorium but the youth. Both of you can use it, so I would encourage you go to churchuniversity.com, get in there, click the very first icon down there is preaching track. Kick the tires, look everything over, we’ve got a boatload of bonuses, and I’m absolutely amazed at what’s in there in terms of sample sermons, sermon calendar template, we’ve got sermon series outlines, it’s just loaded. It’s everything you would want to become a better preacher. Here’s the drill. You want this, he wants this, I want this. God has called us to preach. God has called us to deliver the word. And we try to do it to the best of our ability. But there’s no pastor or preacher out there that thinks they’ve arrived. We certainly haven’t. And I’m guessing you haven’t. So if we could get better at preaching, we want to do that, because the message of the gospel merits it. So I mean, I’m all I’m all pumped about it. Go to churchuniversity.com. You can access it today. It’s got super deep discount, two thirds off right now during this window up through next Thursday. So be sure to take advantage of it. Jonathan, anything else on preaching or intros to a sermon? We’re all good to go? Thanks very much for hanging out with us today! Make it a great one, and be blessed.
Subscribe & Follow:
- Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
- Follow on Spotify
- Subscribe to YouTube Channel
- Subscribe on Google Podcasts
- Like us on Facebook
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Twitter
- Leaders.Church Blog
- Church University
- Take the Free 5 Day Leadership Challenge for Pastors
- Get Free Access to the 4 Secrets Masterclass