When introducing a sermon:
1. Don’t be too long
Over-lengthy introductions imbalance the sermon, waste time, and weary the congregation. An introduction should contain only one leading thought.
2. Don’t be too showy
Some preachers think that they will get their hearers attention by displaying their historical, cultural, or literary learning in their introduction. Shun the sensational and anything that smacks of display.
3. Don’t be too ambitious
Trying to link a distant event or saying with the subject of the sermon by a long series of elaborate leaps in logic will not be persuasive. The introduction must be clearly relevant to the body of the sermon.
4. Don’t be too personal
To start with a personal story now and again may be acceptable but not as a general rule.
5. Don’t be too loud
The introduction is meant to be a gradual awakening not a bugle in the ear which exhausts the preacher for the main body of the sermon. Save your steam for the “hot” parts.
6. Don’t be too predictable
One writer has argued that a good introduction to a sermon would only be good for that sermon and for no other. If it is adaptable to other sermons then it probably is too general and vague. Try to avoid stereotypical and predictable introductions. Sometimes it may be useful to give a brief introduction before reading the text.
7. Don’t steal the sermon’s thunder
The introduction should pave the way for the sermon, not repeat it. If you introduce later material from the main body of the sermon in the introduction, you end up repeating the introduction.
8. Don’t be apologetic
Preachers must not introduce their sermons with an apology for themselves or their sermons. This will not excite sympathy in the hearers but contempt. Preachers are authorized and authoritative ambassadors of Christ and must convey that.
9. Don’t flatter
Preacher’s who begin by flattering their audiences will be regarded as insincere sycophants.
10. Don’t be offensive
Great care must be taken not to offend taste especially at the beginning, when first impressions are so important. Have a regard to the age and sensitivities of your congregation.
For more on introducing a sermon, see my new book from Evangelical Press: How Sermons Work.