Sermons aren’t meant to be lullabies or long songs that drone on and on, lulling people to sleep! The idea of a weekly message is not to offer advice or tell people what to do but to show the relevance of God’s Word as you work and pray for a Christian faith community of Christ-like love.
If you’re the priest or pastor of a liturgical church or one that offers Eucharist or communion every week, you probably have only five or ten minutes at most to deliver your homily or message. If, however, your church service allows more time, you might consider adding another hymn or Bible reading and confine your talk to fifteen minutes or less (yes, preferably, less!). Some churches offer online church sermons so, in theory, sermons can be as long as they need to be, can be digested at a later date, and can be viewed from anywhere.
Regardless of the worship format used, these tips will help you get to the point, be concise, and encourage Christlike lives and actions.
1.Pray! Ask God to give you insight.
2.Study the appropriate readings from the 3-year scripture-reading cycle (Year A, B, or C) used by many churches to encourage Christians from all over the world to read, study, and pray the same scriptures at the same time. Notice which Bible verse or passage speaks to you the clearest.
3. Focus on the single theme or primary topic in your chosen verse(s).
4. Read commentaries and the footnotes in a variety of study Bibles to see what God has given others to bring light to that portion of scripture.
5. List every point you can think of that’s related to your theme or topic.
6. Arrange key points in order of importance to your congregation or particular audience and its needs.
7. Get everyone’s attention with an unusual fact, a question they might have, or a startling statement. For instance, if I say: “This morning I swept the dead bodies off my deck,” you might wonder about that true statement! The “bodies” were the belly-up frogs and snakes the young hawks dropped out of the nest above us, but who knows? Maybe that would lead to a sermon on how we might not like to look at death, but we can rejoice in God’s Word of eternal life in Christ.
8. Keep it simple. Stay on track. The longer the message lasts, the more restless people will become and more likely the sermon will be to wander.
9. Apply God’s Word to everyday situations and concerns. Use Bible people, Bible stories, or contemporary examples to build faith, encourage relevant action, and aim toward a Christian lifestyle.
10. Emphasize your three main points. Use numbers, First…, Second…, Third.… Or repeat a catchy sentence as a refrain to help people remember God’s message to you and them long after they’ve gone home.
Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018