Last Update 9th October, 2016.
The first 90 seconds of your sermon intro makes the difference between engaging your listeners right from the get go or losing them for the rest of the sermon.
If you haven’t read How To Write An Attention-Grabbing Sermon Introduction make sure you do before reading on.
We spend hours tirelessly working on our sermon outlines.
We craft an engaging sermon start, work on our stories and sermon illustrations and yet as preachers, we often fail at the last hurdle… we forget how to end a sermon well and simply trail off at the end.
Today I’m going to share with you just a few pointers on how to end a sermon well I learned from the Preaching Rocket Core Coaching program.
Improving your preaching is the most effective way to grow your church.
Did you know that 90% of people choose a church based on the preaching?
The only thing as important of opening a sermon is the way you end it.
If the closing of your message is not predetermined, organised and clear then your congregation will walk out of your church doors feeling that your message was disorganised and unclear.
Before I signed up for my free trial of Preaching Rocket I would work tirelessly on my sermon outline, focusing primarily on my sermon introduction and main points but I would often neglect my sermon conclusion.
I often ran out of sermon prep time or thought I could ‘wing it‘.
It’s safe to say I didn’t have a plan for how to end my sermons well most of the time…
The result of this was a lot of missed opportunities for life change, instances where I could have made a sharper impact, or made a more compelling case for action. Oftentimes I just rambled or repeated myself.
Like a plane coming in to land, once I realised my sermon was coming to an end without an adequate, predetermined runway to land on I would do what a lot of preachers do; because I was unsure on how to end my sermon I would just keep circling the airport.
I have learned from these mistakes and I now plan much better for ending my sermons.
In this blog post, I will offer seven ways on how to end a sermon well.
This list is not exhaustive, but it does include some of the most tried and true strategies taken from one of the training modules within Preaching Rocket Core Coaching.
1. End a Sermon With a Story
If you can find a relevant story that sums up your key sermon point, ending a sermon with it is a great way to come full circle.
To really conclude your sermon strong come back and tell a story you started in your introduction.
Hollywood does this all time – oftentimes a film or TV show will draw you in with a captivating story but leave the ending up in the air before coming back to it later.
The key is to find a story that connects and supports your sermon message. See here for free online training on how to become a better storyteller.
Do you remember the first time you got bullied or had your heart broken?
Connect with everyday frustrations you know your people have experienced.
Stories about being cut off in traffic or having to put up with a difficult colleague in the office, can be used to connect with your listeners on a heart level.
So next time you preach give this a try and use a captivating story to end your sermon.
2. End A Sermon With An Appeal
Depending on your sermon series topic, ending with an appeal could be the best way to end a sermon.
The best known appeal is of course the decision to commit to Christ.
No matter how ‘routine’ this may seem, it is one appeal that you should never skip if it fits the key message. If you have just preached the gospel, invite people to respond to God’s call.
Pastor Kelly Stickel of Victory Church in Lethbridge, Canada end his sermons with the sinner’s prayer every single week. And his church is growing.
Your appeal could be any opportunity for your people to respond your message. It could be a call to forgive someone who’s hurt you, an appeal to invite a friend to the next service, or to decide to start thanking God for His blessings every day.
Whatever your appeal is, make sure it fits your key message and keep it simple, easy and always practical.
3. End A Sermon With Life Application
“A sermon fails, though it be well presented, biblical and inspiring, if it has no call to action.” [Tweet this]
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You’ve prepared, you’ve presented, you’ve preached your heart out. Your listeners have listened. Now what?
The end of a sermon is a great time to introduce or reinforce life application. End your sermon with what do you want your people to do as a result of what they just heard? How should they respond to the Word you have just given?
Answer these questions as clearly and succinctly as you can at the end of a sermon. Don’t leave anyone in any doubt as to what the life application is.
This will make you think really hard at what your message’s point is. If you can’t challenge with action, you aren’t done preparing. Get really specific.
When you are preparing your sermon, always have the end result in mind. What is your call to action? What do you want your church congregation to do with what you’ve said?
You want your people to be doers and not just hearers only. If you don’t know what you want them to do, you’ve got more work to do, your sermon isn’t finished yet.
4. End a Sermon with A Bold Statement
I always start my preaching preparation with the end of the sermon in mind and work backwards from there.
If you’ve watched Andy Stanley preach, you would have heard him say,
“So if you remember nothing else from my sermon today, today’s takeaway is…”
and then proceed to summarise his whole sermon in a powerful one liner.
A simple one liner that sums up the main idea of your message can be very powerful. The easier it is to remember, the better.
It’s a bold statement that gives your sermon handles your people can hold on to. They’ll remember it and your sermon will stick with them for the rest of the week.
Module 2 of Preaching Rocket will show you how to effectively craft a memorable bottom line.
5. End A Sermon By Vision Casting About What Could Be
This is a powerful way to end a sermon and it’s my personal favourite.
Casting vision by showing your congregation what their lives could be, what their communities could be, what the church could be or what their finances, marriages, families world could be if they applied the Word presented to them today.
“Can you imagine what our relationships would look like if we learned to deal with conflict in this way?”
“What if we could become all that God has called us to be? Can you imagine how our community would be changed?”
Give a lot of thought as to how you can best paint a picture of what could be and explain it in a compelling way.
Hit it home hard and really work hard to connect with your people.
6. End A Sermon By Ending A Sermon
If you really want to know how to end a sermon well – avoid false endings.
We’ve all been there, listening to a preaching rambling on and because he hasn’t planned how to end his sermon he just keeps going.
“Let me close with… okay I’ll end with this… let me wrap it up and say…”
It’s one of the biggest mistakes preachers make. Avoid this trap, use any of the closing tips in this post and end your sermon strong.
7. Mix it up
And finally, the best way to start a sermon is unpredictably – mix it up!
A wise preacher once said, “Don’t jump out from behind the same tree every week.”
His point is simple. In the same way that variety is the spice of life; using different ways to end your sermon keeps your preaching fresh.
Like a gourmet chef, who uses a diversity of herbs and spices to enhance the appetiser, we as preachers need to use calculated variety in our sermon endings.
Alternate between ending with serious and funny stories, switch between ending with a bold statement or a thought-provoking question.
Have a go at vision casting how things could be and making an appeal.
Keep your people engaged with what you have to say, especially when your sermon is drawing to a close, by mixing it up.
So go ahead – I challenge you pick 2-3 of these ideas and experiment with them in your future sermons and see how it improves your sermon end.
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