When you transition too fast between points of your sermon, it’s like riding shotgun with a new high school driver. If your congregation has to grab the handle every time you take a turn, they are likely to jump out of the car at the next stop.
In Bible college, I was taught to give a single transitional sentence, and then to state the next main point.
But I discovered that a two-step transition is like taking a turn on two wheels. It was too fast for my hearers. It worked for me, because I knew where I was going. But it was hard for them to hang on.
So I’ve had to learn how to decelerate, downshift, turn, and then accelerate again by using a transitional paragraph, rather than a couple of sentences. Here’s how I do it, in seven steps.
1. Pause. If you’ve arrived at a part of your sermon where you will announce a main point, you’ve been saying a lot. Perhaps you just finished your introduction, or a previous point. A pause allows the previous content to settle, and it gives your congregation a chance to let their minds catch up before you traverse into something new.
2. Restate the FCF. Unless you want to sound like a robot, restate the Fallen Condition Focus (definition here), don’t repeat it. A key word in the FCF may be worth repeating, but repackage it each time to avoid redundancy. Naturally, you wouldn’t include this step, or the next one, in your first point, since you would have just covered these in your introduction.
3. Restate the Proposition or Big Idea. This will remind your audience of the solution to the FCF that this passage provides from the text. Again, restate it, but don’t repeat it.
4. Exacerbate the FCF. Like plot twists in a movie, the transition between main points needs ramp the FCF up. In a good movie, the problem gets worse and worse before it gets better, with little victories along the way before the big victory at the end.
5. State your next main point. Say it slow so that it sinks into their ears. Deliver eye contact all the way through so that it sinks into their hearts.
(For those of you who are familiar with Chapell’s terminology, it’s my habit to only say the magnet clause of my main point in this step, since I would have already restated the anchor clause in step 3.)
(For those of you who are not familiar with anchor clauses and magnet clauses, be thankful that you are not a total homiletical nerd.)
(Or learn Chapell’s terminology and join our homiletical nerd fraternity.)
6. Repeat your next main point. My preaching prof at Moody, but I never bought it. Then I heard David Platt’s message on missions at T4G. He simply stated his main point, twice in a row. It worked for me, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
7. Pause. That was a lot of new information for your hearers. Another pause allows the congregation to follow the new direction of your sermon before you dig into the next section.
The 7 steps below constitute a template for a transitional paragraph between the points of your sermons. Like all templates, it’s a guide whose parts may need to be switched around, deleted, or emphasized based on the needs of the moment.