Safe, rough, or perilous, once a plane takes off, landing is inevitable. There is more potential for error and danger in the landing than any other time in the flight. A pilot must prepare for landing. And yet when it comes to sermons, the preacher often starts out so strongly only to peter out at the end –or worse, crash and burn.
Pastors – Nail the Landing in Your Sermon This Week
We prepare, create good outlines, grab their attention with an engaging opening story, deliver great content, but forget to plan and to execute a smooth, safe landing. As we’re told in English Composition 101: say what you’re going to say; say it; then say what you just said. The last part is the conclusion, ie, landing the plane. The conclusion should not simply be a recap of your message, it needs to encourage and charge your listeners to apply what they’ve just heard, but how? Here are 3 tips in effectively landing your sermon this week (in true sermon fashion they are all “Cs” –which is not necessary, but can be helpful).
1. Conclude with passion.
You are never to manipulate, but you must always persuade. You have made your case logically by explaining the clear meaning of the scriptural text and making a reasoned argument to appeal to their heads, now go for the heart. Your conclusion should be the emotional high point of the sermon. Hopefully you have taken care to diligently lay open the scriptures and draw out from them, making logical appeals along the way. As you summarize, you need to reinforce your points with passion and emotional intensity and show them their need. Now is not the time to coast to a landing, it’s full throttle until everyone is safely taxiing on the runway.
2. Christ-centered approach.
It’s been said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. Jesus is in every book of the Bible. So, no matter what your topic or scripture passage is, it’s your job to reveal Christ. To show them they need to respond personally and passionately to Him.
3. Clear call to action.
Communicate a specific a call to action and the key to a successful conclusion is clarity. Nehemiah, in the Old Testament, rehearsed the plan for rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, then enlisted help. His call to action wasn’t “I want you to think about this”, but it was “come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem…”, and their response was “Let us start building!” There was no ambiguity about Nehemiah’s request.
In Acts 2, Peter preached one of the greatest messages of all time. He told the story of how Jesus was accused by the people and later killed. At the end of the message, Peter clearly says, “Repent and be baptized.” There was no doubt in what it was that Peter was urging the people to do – his message was crystal clear.
If you’re concluding a sermon on prayer, don’t just extol the virtues of prayer, encourage them to pray– not generically, but specifically. Say something like, “This week, I want to ask you to take five minutes each morning to pray for your neighbors.” And then model it by praying, right then and there –a passionate prayer on behalf of the people and yourself.
If you are preaching on forgiveness, ask your congregation to think of at least one person they have wronged and go initiate reconciliation with them. The more action oriented and specific you can make your conclusion, the more powerful it will be.
So, in conclusion… (no need to say that in your sermon by the way), the successful landing assumes a successful take-off and as little turbulence along the way as possible. Of course, you should start with prayer, dynamic, soul-searching prayer. Get God’s heart on the matter and ask what He would have you speak on. Study to show yourself approved (2 Tim 2:15). It is before you start writing your sermon that you should consider where you want to lead your audience, the action you would like them to take, and where and how you will land.
It’s been said that a sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose. So, be intentional, be passionate, exalt Jesus, and give a specific call to action. Then you are more likely to see results and help the people to grow to become more like Christ. Follow these few tips and you will ace the landing.