Help for New Expositors: 16 Sources for Introductions

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Where can you go to find an appropriate introduction? There are plenty of places if you know where to look. Below are 16 sources for material to use in introducing your sermon.

  1. Biblical context– Give the background of what the situation is. For instance, in Second Timothy, Paul is in prison and he is writing his final letter to his dear child in the faith Timothy,
  2. Overview of the text (i.e., narrative retelling)-If you are preaching a section of a larger narrative, then it is often helpful to retell the story, highlighting the flow of the story to bring your hearers quickly up to speed to prepare them for the more detailed exposition of the text.
  3. Occasion (holidays, world event, etc)-Although you might wish to preach through whole books of the Bible, you may need to acknowledge a tragedy, celebration or other major occasion in your introduction. For instance, in America, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks could not be ignored on the Sunday that followed after that national tragedy. Trying to avoid this reality comes across as insensitive and foolish.
  4. Personal experience– Maybe you have a personal story that relates well with your sermon topic. People like to learn more about their pastor and to see that he is, after all, a real man like they are.
  5. Historical setting– Don’t go crazy here and let this dominate, but enough historical background to help fill in the blanks in order to understand the setting of the text can be helpful to the listeners.
  6. Biography– People love hearing about the lives of other people. Use the stories of others you have read to illustrate the main idea of your sermon.
  7. Geography, culture, customs, background material of the text-Close to historical setting, this may also include details that are also of great interest to the audience. The Bible is, of course, foreign to most people and insights into culture and customs can be very interesting.
  8. Striking statement-These are shocking statements, such as, “Guilty!…That was what I expected to hear from the judge when I stood before him.” You will have their attention! But be careful that the shock from such a statement doesn’t overwhelm your hearers so they can’t get past the statement and follow you to the text.
  9. Problem-What problem is the text addressing? Do most people see it as a problem? How can you highlight it? How does this problem directly affect them personally? If you can answers these questions then you can give your listener a strong reason to be interested in what you have to say.
  10. Purpose of the sermon-Why should they listen to you? Have you shared with them the main point and why it is important for them to know these truths you are about to expound?
  11. News item-Current events are always important, but sometimes the news lends itself to human interest stories, as well as local, national and controversial stories of wide interest. Your congregation is talking about it, let them know that you are thinking about it to and then show them how it relates to your sermon.
  12. Quotation-A good, pithy quote can grab interest and attention. A long, involved quote is usually unhelpful and boring. Choose carefully! If you’re unsure, ask your spouse or kids if you can read it to them!
  13. Reference from literature-It might be a poem, a quote from a famous bit of literature, or even from a magazine. Like the comments on quotes above, make sure it is interesting and not too long.
  14. Position/opinion of doctrine currently held-You can bring up what may be a growing challenge to long-held doctrines, or those which might be popular but opposed to the text you are about to explain. Be charitable and gracious toward those who hold to a differing view if it is orthodox. Remember win them over from the Scripture!
  15. Imagination-Take them on a quick journey of the mind. Say something like, “Imagine with me…” and give them a hypothetical situation or story that fits what you are trying to introduce.
  16. Humorous incident-Don’t use the story of another person, unless they have given you permission first. Stories about funny things you have done are safest and are most relatable.

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