Starting the Sermon


How do you start your sermons? (I’m assuming you’re a pastor who preaches, and therefore starts, sermons.) (If you’re not, please excuse my bold and incorrect assumption.) (Ummm, where was I?)

In the movie “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” the opening credits (“Focus Features Presents: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Featuring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet…”) come into the movie after … 17 minutes. Seventeen minutes of the movie, then you find out the title and names. Why?  The credits are boring. Open with them and I’m bored, just waiting for the movie to begin. But after 17 minutes I’m already into the movie. And the movie didn’t stop for the credits, they were woven into what was happening.

So .. how do you start your sermons? I hear lots of pastors who start, “Today, I’ll be talking to you about …” or “My message today is titled …” or “I’m glad to talk to you today about…” or “Our theme today is …” and guess what?  I don’t care. No one cares. We’re bored, and we’re wondering if we should just check out mentally.

So make me care, then (if you need to) give me the credits. Start the sermon with a provocative line (“Trying to be good is actually a way of rejecting God…”) or an interesting story (“I’ll never forget the day I realized that I would never get what I really wanted…”) and then, a few minutes in, after you’ve made me realize I need to listen to this, you can weave in the credits (“That’s what this passage we’ll be looking at today is all about, as we continue our series through the book of the Bible called Colossians…”)

What you want is for the people to listen to you. If you start by telling them what you’re going to say, they won’t care, and are less likely to listen. But if you wait to tell them what you’re going to say, and instead start by just saying it, in an interesting way, they’ll listen.