One of the most important parts of the sermon is the introduction. The two most important parts are the introduction and the conclusion. The middle is of course important which is also called the body – it is that part which you store all the facts in your message. However, in the introduction you get the attention of the people, while in the conclusion you get the decisive results.
You must catch the attention of people first of all. This you should do by your first few sentence, by the very first sentence you utter if possible. How shall we do this? Sometimes by a graphic description of the circumstances of the text. Also it is well to introduce a sermon by speaking of some interesting thing which you have just heard or seen – some incidence you have read in the paper, some recent discovery in science or the day to day events that relate to human experience.
Sometimes it is rational to jump right into the heart of your text or subject, making some crisp and striking statements, thus causing everybody to prick up his ears and think, “well, I wonder what is coming next”. Your first impression maters a lot, to get the attention of your congregation or audience.
ILLUSTRATE YOUR POINTS
Illustrate every point in the sermon. It will clinch the matter, and fasten it in a person’s mind. Think of good illustrations, but do not over – illustrate. One striking and impressive illustration will fasten the point. Nothing goes further toward making interesting and effective speaker than the power of illustration. All preachers who have been successful in reaching men have been especially gifted in the power of illustration.
a. To make truth clear. No matter how clearly an abstract truth is stated, many minds fail to grasp it unless it is put in concrete form. But nothing will go further to make clear a truth which is of difficult statement and profound, than the skilful use of illustrations.
b. To impress the truth. It is necessary in a public speaker that he not only make the truth clear, but he impress it upon his hearers. There is perhaps nothing that will do more to impress the truth upon the mind, than the wise use of illustrations.
c. To fasten the truth. You can not easily forget a suitable illustration, and with the illustration you remember the truth which was used to illustrate.
d. To attract and hold attention. There is little use in talking to people unless you get their attention. Nothing is more effective in accomplishing this object than the apt use of illustrations.
e. To rest the mind. If you talk continually for twenty minutes without an illustration, people begin to get very tired. But if here and there you drop in a good illustration it serves to rest the mind.
CLASSES OF ILLUSTRATIONS
a. Bible illustrations. That is, incidents from the Bible and pictures of Bible scenes. Christ made much use of this kind of illustration. There is reason to believe it is the very best method. You can certainly cultivate this faculty if only you work very hard enough.
b. Incidents from your own experience. There is in an incident that happened in your own experience. People are always interested to hear what you pass through as a child of God.
c. Anecdotes. Almost everyone likes to listen to a story. Lawyers and politicians and platform speakers generally make a large use of the anecdotes in their speeches.
d. History illustration from history have the advantage of dignity as well as forcefulness. It is a most useful branch of knowledge in itself, but is of special value to the public speakers. Very few people know much about history, and if you bring forward from history well – chosen incidents, both the truth and the illustration will be interesting, instructive and effective.
e. The current affairs are also very useful. If you can spare your time to read the newspapers, the daily publication through the radio, the television and other up to date media, they will impress your audience to give you full attention.
HOW TO GET ILLUSTRATIONS
a. Be on the lookout for them. One ought to cultivate the habit of watching for thoughts watching for texts, watching for points and watching illustrations; in other words, go through the world with your eyes and ears open. Cultivate your own power of observation.
b. Keep a book of illustrations. Take the book with you wherever you go. Whatever you see on your journeys as you move from one place to the other jot it down. If you hear a good illustration preached in a sermon jot it down. Be sure you store the illustration as long as you are prepared to be an effective speaker.
HOW TO USE ILLUSTRATIONS
a. Be sure you have something to illustrate. Always bear in mind that the purpose of the illustration is to explain the truth.
b. Do not fabricate stories. If you make up a story and tell it as if it were true, it is a lie. Do not believe that there are holy lies, it is not true.
c. when you tell a story, tell it exactly as it is, or do not tell at all. There some who exaggerate their stories because they think in this way they will be more impressive. Perhaps they call this a pious fraud, but pious frauds are the most impious and blasphemous on earth.
d. Take note that it is wise often to begin your sermon with an illustration. In this way you get the attention and gain the interest of your audience at the very outset.
e. Also that you often close your sermon with an illustration. This, if wisely done, will not only to fix the truth, but to touch the heart with lasting truth.