Almost every good sermon delivered at the pulpit begins with a strong introduction. Sometimes, for seemingly practical reasons, some preachers cut out the introduction to save themselves a few minutes. In my experience, however, I find that skipping the introduction is oftentimes a mistake. A strong introduction accomplishes several important things which will affect the overall presentation of a sermon.
(1) It introduces the subject.
The primary purpose of an introduction is to creatively present the subject matter to be discussed that day. The introduction should clearly lay out to the audience the big idea of the sermon (remember, the big idea is the sum of all the key points). This will enhance the clarity of your message. The congregation should end up with a glimpse (not necessarily the whole picture) of where you’ll be taking them on this homiletical journey.
(2) It introduces the speaker.
Generally, another person introduces the speaker to the audience highlighting their credentials and accomplishments (a practice which I am not a fan of). But a sermon’s own introduction also introduces the preacher to the congregation—in very subtle ways. A strong introduction subconsciously shows the audience your distinct speaking style, your language and grammatical preferences, and your own character and personality. The congregation will get to know who you are in an indirect manner. And the more the audience knows about you, the more likely they’ll be at ease as you preach.
(3) It introduces the tone.
Lastly, a strong introduction sets the tone for the rest of the sermon. A serious introduction will set the stage for a serious conversation. A hearty introduction will set the stage for a hearty message. Of course, as a preacher, you want to vary the tone of the sermon depending on the subject matter and the circumstances. An introduction will help set whatever tone you need for that Sunday morning.
A strong introduction also sets the tone for the preacher. Starting off on the right foot with a good introduction can affect your personal disposition. A well-presented introduction can increase your overall confidence which will help you deliver the rest of the sermon better. On the other hand, if you start off on the wrong foot, you’ll have to find ways to adjust and recover mid-sermon. In my experience, skipping the introduction is almost always akin to starting on the wrong foot. Therefore, I always recommend beginning your sermon with a strong introduction.
In the next article, we’ll look at what you need to do to start strong.
Join the discussion: Do you agree that sermons should always start with a good introduction?