Following up on yesterday’s post about teaching beginning preachers, here’s my second checklist for beginning (and not-so-beginning) preachers on introducing a sermon.

1. Is it too long/too short? (Too long is by far the most common problem)

2. Does it contain no more than one thought/idea? (second most common problem)

3. Are you showing off your learning or trying to be sensational?

4. Is the introduction connected/relevant to the sermon?

5. Does the introduction connect with your hearers? Does it draw them into the sermon?

6. Does it give hearers a reason to listen to the sermon?

7. Does it steal the sermon’s thunder? In other words, is there sermon material in the introduction?

8. Is it apologetic and hesitant rather than authoritative and declarative?

9. Is it unnecessarily offensive?

10. Is it sufficiently varied when compared with your other sermon introductions?


Here are my Top 10 Books on Preaching. And if you want to read more about how to introduce a sermon, here are the relevant passages in various preaching books.

Jay Adams. Preaching with Purpose, pp. 59-64.
J A. Broadus. The Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, pp. 266-275.
Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, pp. 237-268.
H. B. Charles, On Preaching, pp. 73-82.
R. L. Dabney, Sacred Rhetoric or a Course of Lectures on Preaching, pp. 137-153.
Mark Dever, Preach, pp. 102-106.
Mark Dever, The Westminster Directory of Public Worship, pp. 93-94.
C. W. Koller, Expository Preaching Without Notes, pp. 77-78.
John MacArthur, Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, pp. 201-204, 243.
John Macarthur, Rediscovering Expository Preaching, pp. 242-247.
David Murray, How Sermons Work, pp. 71-84.
Denis Prutow, So Pastor, What’s Your Point, pp. 171-180.
Haddon. W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching, pp. 159-174.
John Stott, Between Two Worlds, pp. 243-253.

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  • Christopher Taylor

    Not trying to call into question point number 10, on varied introductions, but I find it interesting that of the fifteen sermons on Acts that I’ve listened to by ML-J, every one of them has begun with the exact same phrase, “The words to which I should like to call your attention to…”.

    • David Murray

      I suppose some people (like MLJ and Sinclair Ferguson) have an ability to say simple sentences in ways that sound like the Gettysburg address :)

      More seriously, I don’t know about this series, but many of MLJ’s series were preached on Friday evenings to audiences of already motivated Christians.