Four Things Most Sermons are Missing
With hours of preparation for every message, sermons are usually the centerpiece of the worship service.
You pray about the topic.
You study the passage.
You carefully craft the message.
And though every step of the process you want to stay faithful to the text, honor God, and encourage people.
That’s no small order.
And the order repeats itself every week.
Because this is co critical to the mission of your church, you want your sermon to be as effective as it can be.
With that in mind, here are four things often missing from many messages.
#1 – What’s at Stake?
As a preacher, you know the topic of the day is of utmost importance.
You’ve studied the passage.
You know it matters.
But the people in the room don’t share this sense of urgency. They walk in or log on thinking about their jobs, their families, their upcoming trips, their problems, or where they are going to eat.
One of the most crucial jobs of a preacher and one of the most important things you can add to your sermon is setting the stakes.
Why do they really need to know this?
What is it gonna cost if they don’t listen or apply?
If the answer is “nothing,” you will struggle to get people to lean in.
Before launching into the topic, create tension by setting the stakes. You can do this explicitly or implicitly, but remember this principle…
Tension creates attention.
If you’re using Sermonary, be sure to put a block somewhere at the top of your message where you talk about the tension and let people know what’s at stake.
#2 – Simple Action Step
“What do I do with all of that?”
That’s one of the five things your people wish they could tell you about your sermons.
With so many people on information overload in the world, it’s no wonder people are craving practical application.
When you get stuck in sermon prep, here are two questions you can ask yourself:
The first question is “What do you really want people to know?” That should you back to the big idea, the main point of the passage, and the key principle you’re trying to explain.
And the second question is “What do you really want people to do?” That will help you focus on the action step. It forces you to remember just like faith without works is dead, information without application is just filling the time.
As you move through your message and toward your conclusion, are you pointing people to a simple and clear action step? Is there something specific you can ask them to do? To try? To pray?
Too many messages leave people with a lot to consider and little to do.
Don’t forget this.
#3 – An Optimized Title
This may sound crazy, but your sermon needs a more boring title.
It should be clear.
It should include keywords.
It should be optimized for Google and YouTube search.
“If we want YouTube to suggest our content when people are searching for answers, we need to consider keywords and phrases when deciding on message and series titles,” writes Dave Adamson, then the online pastor at Northpoint in Atlanta.
“In June of 2019, Andy Stanley did a series on controlling your emotions titles ‘You’re Not the Boss of Me.’ That phrase gets 210 searches a month. How to Control Your Emotions gets 8,100 searches. It’s less catchy, but more user friendly,” he explains.
When you post your sermon to the web or upload it to YouTube, start with a clear title.
If you opt for a creative title, at least choose a clear subtitle. It’s okay to use the clever one in your internal promotion, but be sure to use the optimized one when you post it online.
#4 – A Distribution Plan
Think of all the work that goes into the message.
Prayer, prep, writing, editing, practicing, and delivering.
It’s a significant body of work for any pastor.
And here’s the thing: most people connected to your church probably didn’t hear it. But as soon as the calendar turns to the next week, we’re on to the next message.
We move on to what’s next without really taking time to leverage what’s already been done.
We think “content creation” when we should pause for some “content distribution.” We should put time into repurposing what’s already been created.
In a recent lab, several pastors shared ideas for how they distribute their sermon beyond Sunday.
- Ask a volunteer or member to record a 3-minute summary of the message.
- Have a volunteer edit a few 30-second clips and share them throughout the week.
- The pastor could post the outline, notes or recap to the church’s blog, being sure to optimize it for keywords and search.
- Email the recap to the church database. A lot of people who might not watch a full video would read the summary or edited transcript.
- Use Canva to create graphics from a few key quotes or ideas. Share these to social.
- When a series is done, turn it into a devotional book or short booklet.
- Pastor shares study resources or materials used in prep.
- Post the message to YouTube and other channels online. Be sure to optimize the title for keywords.
Some churches are beginning to see the value in content distribution and building small teams of volunteers to focus on this.
This is a great change to involve people throughout the week and give people the opportunity to volunteer with their brains, not just their hands.
About the Author: Church Fuel provides insanely practical coaching and resources to pastors of normal size churches. Learn more about their courses, resources, and programs at churchfuel.com.