Category: Church

Preaching Preparation for the Real World Pastor:
Principle #9 – Conclusions

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Preaching Preparation for the Real World Pastor:
Principle #9 – Conclusions


By Dr. Thomas Douglas, Pastor, Parkway Baptist Church, Kansas City, KS

This is the tenth in a series of articles on sermon preparation for pastors and bivocational pastors with busy schedules. To see the earlier articles, click the links below:

Introduction article,
Principle #1: Bible Literacy
Principle #2: Know What You Believe
Principle #3: Know Your Audience—Exegeting Your People
Principle #4: Know Who You Trust—Trusted Sources
Principle #5: Know Your Text—You and the Scripture

Principle #6: Know What You Want People to Do—Application Points
Principle #7: Know the Right Story to Bring the Truth Home—Relevant Stories
Principle #8: Know How to Start Well with Good Introductions


“Let me close by saying . . .” Conclusions are meant to end the sermon. Bryan Chapell shares these words about conclusions, “With these final words, a preacher marshals the thought and emotion of the entire message into an exhortation that makes all that has preceded clear and compelling.”[1] Richard Mahue declares, “Just as an athlete needs to finish strong at the end of a race or game, the preacher must be at his best in the closing minutes.”[2] In one sense a preacher’s conclusion should be the easiest part of the sermon. If he has been effective in securing the listeners’ attention in the introduction and if he has faithfully and passionately proclaimed God’s truth with application points, then most of the work for his conclusion has already been accomplished. All the preacher has left is to summarize his main points, tie them together with a story or a series of questions, and energize the congregation to action.

If it was only that easy. Many preachers struggle a great deal with conclusions. How does a preacher take all that has been said in the sermon and use it to move his listeners to faithful obedience to the preached Word? While the axiom is true that a bad conclusion can ruin a good sermon, the reverse is also true. An excellent conclusion can cover a multitude of weaknesses in a sermon. Preachers who have limited time have tough decisions to make. Do they short change the exegetical process to devote more time on the development of the structure? Do they squeeze a few more moments of study into the introduction and conclusion or hope their application points drive the truth home in the hearers? Both Chapell and York contend that listeners will remember the conclusion more than anything else about the sermon.[3] If this is true, preachers cannot relegate the conclusion to the leftovers of time and preparation. Eternal souls hang in the balance after hearing the Word of God. Preachers cannot leave the listeners hanging. They must provide closure. They must call upon the people to respond in faithful obedience to the preached Word.

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The League of Church Members Extraordinary, Part 4
Midwives: Find the Lost and the Seekers

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The League of Church Members Extraordinary, Part 4
Midwives: Find the Lost and the Seekers




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.



This is the fourth in a five part series on finding people within the congregation who can meet extraordinary needs in the life of the church. The previous articles are:
The League of Church Members Extraordinary
Leaders: Find the Devil in Pew Number Seven
Reach the Ugly Woman in the Balcony


I wish for your church a small, dedicated group of people who are called and gifted, trained and faithful, in helping other people into the kingdom of God.

Call them soulwinners or witnesses. I call them midwives. They are not responsible for the new life, but they assist it in coming into being.

Someone walks forward during the invitation time and tells the pastor, “I’m ready. I’d like to become a Christian.”

Fortunate is the pastor who can turn to a member nearby and say, “Bill, this is Tom. Tom wants to become a Christian. Would you help him?” Bill invites Tom to come with him, and they exit the sanctuary into an adjoining room where they can speak quietly and privately. Bill opens the Scriptures and shows Tom what God has to say about becoming a disciple of Jesus, answers his questions, and prays with him. Then, after Tom is satisfied he has done what he came to do, Bill begins the process of disciplining him–that is, grounding him in the Christian faith.

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Preaching Preparation for the Real World Pastor:
Principle #8 – Know How to Start Well with Good Introductions

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Preaching Preparation for the Real World Pastor:
Principle #8 – Know How to Start Well with Good Introductions


By Dr. Thomas Douglas, Pastor, Parkway Baptist Church, Kansas City, KS

This is the ninth in a series of articles on sermon preparation for pastors and bivocational pastors with busy schedules. To see the earlier articles, click the links below:

Introduction article,
Principle #1: Bible Literacy,
Principle #2: Know What You Believe,
Principle #3: Know Your Audience—Exegeting Your People,
Principle #4: Know Who You Trust—Trusted Sources,
Principle #5: Know Your Text—You and the Scripture

Principle #6: Know What You Want People to Do—Application Points
Principle #7: Know the Right Story to Bring the Truth Home—Relevant Stories


As a college freshman my church allowed me to fill the pulpit on a Sunday evenings when the pastor was on vacation.  I remember sharing with another religion student my disdain for introductions, saying, “My introduction is ‘Turn in your Bibles to…’”  I believed that a “true” Christian would come to church ready and willing to hear God’s Word proclaimed from God’s spokesman.  If someone in the congregation refused to prepare their hearts to receive God’s message, then shame on them.  I put the responsibility for preparation solely on the listener.

Fast forward twelve years to my dissertation where on page 2 of chapter one I quote Charles Kraft, stating, “Frequently, it is necessary for communicators to build the bridge nearly all the way to the receptors if they are to have any assurance of being understood.”[1] John Stott popularized the use of the term “bridge” in his work, Between Two Worlds.  He states, “I recognize that in fact there has been a long succession of bridge-builders; that throughout the history of the Church Christians have tried to relate the biblical message to their particular culture; and that each new Christian generation has entered into its predecessor’s labours.”[2]

What changed?  I preached over 1,000 sermons between my college years and my dissertation.  Soon after a preacher takes his first pastorate he realizes how many people come to church unprepared to hear from God.  The preacher’s greatest task is often deterred by several factors beyond his control.  Preachers cannot control the lifestyles of their listeners, cannot control the circumstances they encounter, and cannot control their hearts and minds.  Thousands of potential interruptions through temptation, through sin, and/or through spiritual attacks await anyone who desires to hear the Word of God.  I’ve come to the conclusion that even though it might not be the preacher’s fault that a listener is unprepared to hear the Word of God when he begins, he still bears the bulk of responsibility for moving his hearers mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to the Word of God.

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The League of Church Members Extraordinary, Part 3
Reach the Ugly Woman in the Balcony

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The League of Church Members Extraordinary, Part 3
Reach the Ugly Woman in the Balcony




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.



This is the third in a five part series on finding people within the congregation who can meet extraordinary needs in the life of the church. To read the first two articles, “The League of Church Members Extraordinary,” and “Leaders: Find the Devil in Pew Number Seven,” follow the links.


My wife tells me not to use the term “ugly woman” and as you surely know, for a preacher to go against the advice of his wife is foolhardy. But since we were unable to find a better substitute, it remains — at least for the moment. I can always return and tweak this article. Readers with better ideas should send them this way posthaste!

The story comes from a longtime friend, Lynn. Now, Lynn is a better Christian than almost anyone I know. She has had enough pains and heartaches for several lifetimes. Instead of making her hard and calloused, the trials have driven her closer to the Heavenly Father. Consequently, she is full of mercy and grace.

Her church has wisely made her a greeter for the congregation. That sweet spirit and smiling face draw people in. Every church should have such people out front to welcome worshipers.

Not long ago, prior to the service, Lynn spotted a woman in the balcony. I’m using Lynn’s words when I say that she was ugly. The scowl on her face warned everyone to stand back about 500 feet. And that’s why Lynn did what she did. She sought her out. Climbed into the balcony and went straight to her, thrust out her hand and said, “Hello.”

The woman may as well have uttered a “bah, humbug!” for she was a living personification of Scrooge himself. She said nothing and turned away. Now, for most people, that would have done it. They would have written the woman off, but not Lynn. Not even close.

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The League of Church Members Extraordinary, Part 2
Leaders: Find the Devil in Pew Number Seven

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The League of Church Members Extraordinary, Part 2
Leaders: Find the Devil in Pew Number Seven




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.



This is the second in a five part series on finding people within the congregation who can meet extraordinary needs in the life of the church. To read the first article, “The League of Church Members Extraordinary Part 1,” follow the link.


Deacons and other mature leaders of the church have a responsibility, probably not spelled out in their bylaws, but as necessary as any given them in Scripture or by the membership: Be on a constant lookout for trouble and troublemakers within the congregation.

The Apostle Paul told the Ephesian leaders that they could expect deadly threats to the congregation’s survival to arise from two sources: outside and inside (Acts 20:29ff). The first they would have expected. It is no secret that the devil wants to destroy the church and neutralize its effectiveness and will use any means necessary to pull that off. It was the second–enemies arising from within the body itself–that must have surprised them. Had those leaders been as trusting and naïve as many of us, they would have expected all the worshipers to be loving and gracious, faithful and trusting, and would have been blindsided by tyrants arising from their own number.

So, Scripture warns us to be alert, to be watchful in both directions.

This is not the pastor’s job alone. Granted, he is charged with this responsibility. But in a congregation of hundreds or even thousands, he needs eyes and ears other than his own. He needs the deacons and Sunday School teachers–note that we are assuming them to be godly and mature–to keep their eyes and ears open, their antennae up, to remain always vigilant. They are to watch out for the devils in their midst, plainly put.

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