I’ve mentioned the term key points several times in this blog and I’d like to take some time to define it. A key point is a simple statement that conveys a Biblical truth and indicates a course of action. In simpler terms, a key point reveals what God says and what people should do about it. There are three major components that make up a good key point:
(1) A key point is simple.
You’ll want to make a key point as simple as possible. That means that the statement shouldn’t be long or filled with complicated language. The audience shouldn’t be struggling to retain a key point in their minds. A good rule of thumb is this: if you can’t recall a key point without looking at your own notes, then it’s probably too complex for your audience to remember too. Remember, if your audience cannot recall a key point, they obviously won’t be able to apply it. Also, you shouldn’t have too many key points in your sermon. Keep the number to a minimum. I believe that three is the maximum number of key points that a person can easily recall in one sermon.
(2) A key point conveys a Biblical truth.
You don’t need to invent (nor should you) a key point from the top of your head. Key points are already found in the Scriptures. Simply figure out what God clearly states in a particular passage and turn it into a key point. Once again, part of the preacher’s task is to expose what God has already revealed to us in the Bible. We preach the Word of God—not human ideas. You may re-state what the Bible says in more contemporary language (which I recommend) but make sure that it’s still anchored on the passage.
(3) A key point indicates a course of action.
The goal of preaching isn’t to transfer knowledge although that can be important. Preaching aims to change the lives of people through the power of the Spirit and through the human response of obedience. A good key point should indicate a course of action that people will take in order to change and become more like Jesus. Your audience shouldn’t leave the church confused about what they need to do now to become a better follower of Christ.
On a final note, your key points should contribute to one big and cohesive idea. In my experience, every passage has one overarching idea and the key points that I deliver help support that idea. Whenever I preach, I clearly state the big idea in my introduction (and the big idea also helps form the title of the sermon). I then repeat the big idea often especially before introducing a new key point. The key points should always support the big idea in some way.