When I fly, only two brief periods—the takeoff and the landing—make me anxious. Most airplane crashes occur during these crucial periods, so that's when I'm listening carefully to the engines, feeling for any unusual tremors, sniffing for the scent of smoke, and watching for fear in the faces of the flight attendants. Between the beginning and the end, I can relax and get some work done.
Listening to a sermon elicits similar periods of anxiety. If our introduction is clear, and people sense the preacher knows where he or she is going, everyone can relax and listen. But when the flight time has elapsed, people begin to anticipate the landing is near, and anxiety can rise again. When I've failed to land a sermon effectively, it is often because I have not given it the study time I should have. I end up circling the field two or three times. Folks keep thinking Surely he'll land it this time.
A great sermon not only starts well, it ends well. Here's what I've learned about getting ...1