In an article for Pastors.com, Rick Warren writes: “a sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose. Changed lives come from great conclusions. John Stott said, “If there’s no summons, there’s no sermon.”

First, avoid these four common mistakes:
• Don’t just summarize the message. Ask people to act.
• Don’t announce that you’re concluding, especially if you don’t mean it.
• Don’t blame the clock and rush to a conclusion.
• Don’t introduce new ideas or extra points in your conclusion.
Instead, conclude by doing these things:

1. Always point back to Jesus Christ. Jesus is center-stage. The goal of preaching is not to get people to fall in love with you as the preacher but to get them to fall in love with Jesus. Since the Bible is the story of Jesus’ redemptive work, every sermon ought to draw people to the cross and the resurrection of Christ.

2. End with emotional intensity. The conclusion should be the emotional high point of the sermon – the crescendo. The target of your preaching should shift from the hearer’s head to their heart. I’m not suggesting we use emotions to manipulate, but rather that we persuade the will of a person to respond. My hero W. A. Criswell used to say that “preaching is seeking to move a man’s will God-ward.” The conclusion is the place to do that most effectively.

3. Ask for a specific response. A sermon’s conclusion isn’t dynamic until it’s specific. The conclusion of a sermon should always answer the question, “okay, now what?” And if you ask people to do too many things in response to the message, you’ve asked them to do nothing. Determine what one actionable challenge you should be offering at the end of this particular message.

4. Make it personal. Every listener should feel that you are dealing directly with their heart as an individual, as if it is just the two of you in the room. One of the best ways to do this is to write out your closing prayer in advance that leads people in committing to the points of the message. Writing it out in this way keeps you from saying the same thing every week.

5. Always offer an opportunity to receive Christ and expect people to respond. The Word of God really is powerful when it gets into the souls of your hearers. So be sure to allow the Holy Spirit room to work by giving everyone an opportunity to choose to follow Jesus. Then lead them in that commitment and expect that some will be saved. But as you do, avoid using manipulative pressure tactics. Our goal is not to close the sale and get commitments. Our goal is to help people begin a new life, transformed by God.” [Read the full article]

 

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About The Author

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Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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