I preach at our church about half the time. It’s always a joy to share with the congregation. I recently picked up an old book called Speaking With A Purpose by Author Koch. There are tons of practical tips and reminders in this text book for speaking.
Of the many aspects of speaking – from articulation, to non-verbals, to prep and practice – the introduction is extremely important for engaging the listener. Here is a list of ideas for starting your message:
Humor is a great way to begin a message. It doesn’t have to be a joke, though, often, if the joke fits well, it can be effective. Other humor might include something that has happened to you. A story you’ve heard. A quote, list, image or picture.
Tell a story about a situation or something interesting about someone’s life.
Ask a question related to your message. “Have you ever wondered how you can be…” By nature, of asking a question to a large group, you don’t intend to get responses, but to help people start thinking about the topic at hand.
What sort of statistic can you share to really make an impact?
Refer to What Preceded You
What just happened in worship? A beautiful song? A drama? A video? Make mention of it briefly. In this way, you will be a voice for the congregation, saying out loud what they were all thinking. This is a great connector.
Refer to the Familiar
There are some things we all know about – a local ice cream place, a current blockbuster movie, a local construction area that has everyone rerouting, etc.
Begin With a Definition or Quotation
Open your message with a definition for something or a quote by someone. Quotes are easy to find. These quotes, funny or serious, can work really well.
Use An Object
At times, an object can be useful as you grab the attention of the listeners. Most recently, I saw someone use a can of coke to illustrate an advertising campaign slogan, that tied into the message overall.
List a Series of Examples
As you introduce the topic of your message, try listing a series of examples before you jump in. For example, if you’re preaching on the light shining in the darkness, you can begin with three short stories of times when you really experienced dark places – a cave tour, eye surgery experience, your room at night as a little kid, etc.
As one preacher said, “You stand up and tell them what you want to say, then you say it, then you tell them what you said.” The introduction is what helps shape the message – try not to waste the first few brief moments trying to gear up. Jump in full throttle.
Here is a small start to a collection of jokes and stories for you!
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