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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    This from my Ministerially Speaking blog:

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    I heard a well-prepared, well-delivered sermon that was intended to conclude with an invitation. As the sermon was finished a sweet spirit was evident in the service and I fully expected to see several people respond. The case had been made and the Spirit of the Lord was at work.

    But the preacher wouldn't land the sermon! Instead, we heard one more story followed by yet another application. By the time people were actually given opportunity to respond the moment had faded and the response was meager.

    There are two points in the sermon that especially need to be well thought through by the preacher. The first is the first part of the sermon. The other is the closing of the sermon.

    I’m not saying that sermons should never include “in flight” direction of the Holy Spirit, even at crucial points (like leading to a call for decisions). However, the preacher needs to be careful to leave the Spirit room to work in the hearts of the listeners and be leery of telling “one more story.”

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    This from my Ministerially Speaking blog:

    Attachment 8838

    I heard a well-prepared, well-delivered sermon that was intended to conclude with an invitation. As the sermon was finished a sweet spirit was evident in the service and I fully expected to see several people respond. The case had been made and the Spirit of the Lord was at work.

    But the preacher wouldn't land the sermon! Instead, we heard one more story followed by yet another application. By the time people were actually given opportunity to respond the moment had faded and the response was meager.

    There are two points in the sermon that especially need to be well thought through by the preacher. The first is the first part of the sermon. The other is the closing of the sermon.

    I’m not saying that sermons should never include “in flight” direction of the Holy Spirit, even at crucial points (like leading to a call for decisions). However, the preacher needs to be careful to leave the Spirit room to work in the hearts of the listeners and be leery of telling “one more story.”
    What if all the people present have already made their decision?
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    What if all the people present have already made their decision?
    What if they haven't?

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    This from my Ministerially Speaking blog:

    Attachment 8838

    I heard a well-prepared, well-delivered sermon that was intended to conclude with an invitation. As the sermon was finished a sweet spirit was evident in the service and I fully expected to see several people respond. The case had been made and the Spirit of the Lord was at work.

    But the preacher wouldn't land the sermon! Instead, we heard one more story followed by yet another application. By the time people were actually given opportunity to respond the moment had faded and the response was meager.

    There are two points in the sermon that especially need to be well thought through by the preacher. The first is the first part of the sermon. The other is the closing of the sermon.

    I’m not saying that sermons should never include “in flight” direction of the Holy Spirit, even at crucial points (like leading to a call for decisions). However, the preacher needs to be careful to leave the Spirit room to work in the hearts of the listeners and be leery of telling “one more story.”
    I always tell young preachers "landing" it well is the hardest part.
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    I always tell young preachers "landing" it well is the hardest part.
    Yep. Just like selling vaccuum cleaners. Once your mark is convinced that your product sucks, it's time to stop sucking and close the sale.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Yep. Just like selling vaccuum cleaners. Once your mark is convinced that your product sucks, it's time to stop sucking and close the sale.
    I wouldn't have said it like that, but I have to admit I like the way you said it.
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Regular Member Steve Hager's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    I always tell young preachers "landing" it well is the hardest part.
    While I agree the the close is perhaps the most critical part of the sermon, it is my opinion that way too much emphasis is placed on the style of the gospel presentation and the polish of the service than on the spiritual preparation of those involved. While we want to do all things to the honor of God, which means doing our very best, we must not forget that only the Spirit draws the lost. The best "sales pitch" from the best "vacuum cleaner salesman" (to continue the analogy above) means nothing if the Spirit is not at work. On the other hand, a sermon may be read by a stammering, uneducated fool, and, if the Spirit moves, it is an effective presentation.

    I'm not sure that one can have bad timing of the Spirit is really at work. Perhaps, we too often confuse emotions with the work of the Spirit.
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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    I think that while "making a sale" might fit at a certain level that it falls far short of what preaching for decisions is about. I learned long ago that I'm no salesman. My career in sales lasted just a few days and I fled with the blessing of my potential employer.

    Preaching the gospel is an entirely different experience. The partnership with the Holy Spirit is indescribable to those who haven't experienced it. What I wrote about landing the sermon could easily be understood to be a warning about not trying to be a salesperson. While the partnership is real, the preacher comes to the point that it is time to let go and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and convince without trying to "help" too much.

    Honestly, even as I write this I can't help but wonder if this level of thought fits NazNet (or anywhere similar) very well. It's too easy for someone to take advantage of it and find an opening for a pithy one liner in response.

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Hager View Post
    While I agree the the close is perhaps the most critical part of the sermon, it is my opinion that way too much emphasis is placed on the style of the gospel presentation and the polish of the service than on the spiritual preparation of those involved. While we want to do all things to the honor of God, which means doing our very best, we must not forget that only the Spirit draws the lost. The best "sales pitch" from the best "vacuum cleaner salesman" (to continue the analogy above) means nothing if the Spirit is not at work. On the other hand, a sermon may be read by a stammering, uneducated fool, and, if the Spirit moves, it is an effective presentation.

    I'm not sure that one can have bad timing of the Spirit is really at work. Perhaps, we too often confuse emotions with the work of the Spirit.
    Best to have both, don't you think?
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    I never use "hard sell tactics" but then I don't see many "conversions" either. Sunday fortnight ago, I asked one of my Elders to come to the front of the church and to be available to pray with anyone who wanted to be assured of their salvation. (It was an evangelistic message based upon the lectionary reading in John 3). I gave an invitation but once before we sang 3 verses of "Pass me not O gentle Saviour". No one responded then, but later a lady waited at the front of the church and asked me to pray with her so I did; and she recommitted her life to Christ. All good.

    Most the people I have led to the Lord over the years have been as a result of bible studies in their own homes, such as Christianity Explained.

    I remember once being a part of a fellowship Dinner at the church where people spoke of their own faith stories. One couple spoke of theirs as being when "Rev. Dave" (me) prayed with them at the end of a Bible Study course I was running. I was so embarrassed because I'd forgotten all about it.... but they definately remembered.
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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    I grew up in a congregation that is not the least bit evangelical - nor evangelistic. My mother still attends there.

    A while back they welcomed a new pastor.

    In the course of conversation, my mother started telling me about how much she appreciated her new minister. A really good administrator, good with the finances, led committee meetings very well. And his wife was wonderful.

    But he is a lousy preacher.

    When I asked why, she said - "He never knows when to end the sermon. He makes the final point, everything is good, but then he continues on for another 10 minutes, and wears us all down. It's as if he knows how to take off, and how to fly, but he doesn't know how to land. He crashes. Every time."

    My father (God rest his soul) listened to this conversation and, as she said the last words, he simply made the sound of a plane crashing. Then he said, "That is the only reason I'm glad I don't have the breath to sing in the choir. If I had to sit behind him every Sunday morning, I know I couldn't hide my expression when he crashes another one."
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    Senior Member Dale Schaeffer's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Most of them likely lost their salvation at some point during that week and need to repent.
    Laughing Kevin Rector - thanks for this funny post

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    I heard a well-prepared, well-delivered sermon that was intended to conclude with an invitation. As the sermon was finished a sweet spirit was evident in the service and I fully expected to see several people respond. The case had been made and the Spirit of the Lord was at work.

    But the preacher wouldn't land the sermon! Instead, we heard one more story followed by yet another application. By the time people were actually given opportunity to respond the moment had faded and the response was meager. ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    But he is a lousy preacher.

    When I asked why, she said - "He never knows when to end the sermon. He makes the final point, everything is good, but then he continues on for another 10 minutes, and wears us all down. It's as if he knows how to take off, and how to fly, but he doesn't know how to land. He crashes. Every time."

    My father (God rest his soul) listened to this conversation and, as she said the last words, he simply made the sound of a plane crashing. Then he said, "That is the only reason I'm glad I don't have the breath to sing in the choir. If I had to sit behind him every Sunday morning, I know I couldn't hide my expression when he crashes another one."
    If I were either of those preachers, I'd hope someone in my congregation would have the courage to tell me.... rather than enduring sermon crashes Sunday after Sunday.

    Scott, Mike, do either of you know if these thoughts were communicated to the pastors in question?
    Thanks Craig Laughlin, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    If I were either of those preachers, I'd hope someone in my congregation would have the courage to tell me.... rather than enduring sermon crashes Sunday after Sunday.

    Scott, Mike, do either of you know if these thoughts were communicated to the pastors in question?
    Yes. The pastor wisely asked several in his congregation to give him feedback every week. (My mother considered telling him to listen to my sermons - praise Jesus I got wind of that poor idea and squelched it.)

    She told me that he got better.
    "Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Remember the 6-point sermon structure:

    >tell 'em what you're gonna' tell em"

    >>> tell 'em what you said you'd tell 'em

    >tell 'em what you told 'em

    >be seated
    Thanks Marsha Lynn, David Graham, Diane Likens - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    I grew up in a congregation that is not the least bit evangelical - nor evangelistic. My mother still attends there.

    A while back they welcomed a new pastor.

    In the course of conversation, my mother started telling me about how much she appreciated her new minister. A really good administrator, good with the finances, led committee meetings very well. And his wife was wonderful.

    But he is a lousy preacher.

    When I asked why, she said - "He never knows when to end the sermon. He makes the final point, everything is good, but then he continues on for another 10 minutes, and wears us all down. It's as if he knows how to take off, and how to fly, but he doesn't know how to land. He crashes. Every time."

    My father (God rest his soul) listened to this conversation and, as she said the last words, he simply made the sound of a plane crashing. Then he said, "That is the only reason I'm glad I don't have the breath to sing in the choir. If I had to sit behind him every Sunday morning, I know I couldn't hide my expression when he crashes another one."
    And so I have yet another chance to spit my tea out laughing as I read Naznet. Never fails....
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    I think that while "making a sale" might fit at a certain level that it falls far short of what preaching for decisions is about. I learned long ago that I'm no salesman. My career in sales lasted just a few days and I fled with the blessing of my potential employer.

    Preaching the gospel is an entirely different experience. The partnership with the Holy Spirit is indescribable to those who haven't experienced it. What I wrote about landing the sermon could easily be understood to be a warning about not trying to be a salesperson. While the partnership is real, the preacher comes to the point that it is time to let go and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and convince without trying to "help" too much.

    Honestly, even as I write this I can't help but wonder if this level of thought fits NazNet (or anywhere similar) very well. It's too easy for someone to take advantage of it and find an opening for a pithy one liner in response.
    Preaching for decisions is very similar to selling, but instead of latching onto the prospect's self-interest in order to sell a good/service for a profit, the sermon latches onto the prospect's desire for spiritual self-improvement. I'm okay with saying that this desire comes from the Holy Spirit and that the sermon operates in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

    There is no shame in the fact that different modes of persuasion have some things in common.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
    Thanks Craig Laughlin, Gina Stevenson, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member David Troxler's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kennedy View Post
    Remember the 6-point sermon structure:

    >tell 'em what you're gonna' tell em"

    >>> tell 'em what you said you'd tell 'em

    >tell 'em what you told 'em

    >be seated
    I had a college professor who took this approach to teaching his classes. Frankly, he got his point across the first time he indicated what he wanted to tell us. The rest of the class became agony for students. Don't just fill time like that guy.
    Thanks Susan Unger - "thanks" for this post

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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by David Troxler View Post
    I had a college professor who took this approach to teaching his classes. Frankly, he got his point across the first time he indicated what he wanted to tell us. The rest of the class became agony for students. Don't just fill time like that guy.
    I don't think John was thinking of it quite like that. More like:
    1. Today we're going to think about Jesus praying at Gethsemane
    2. This is how he prayed.
    3. So let's take his example to heart.

    Rather than:
    1. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane.
    2. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane.
    3. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane.


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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    I don't think John was thinking of it quite like that. More like:
    1. Today we're going to think about Jesus praying at Gethsemane
    2. This is how he prayed.
    3. So let's take his example to heart.

    Rather than:
    1. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane.
    2. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane.
    3. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane.

    The way I've heard it is more like this:

    1. Today I'm going to tell you how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. These are the points we'll cover.
    2. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. The first point is ...
    3. So what we have learned today is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. Here are the points we covered.

    Sometimes that approach can help people remember what was covered. But sometimes they caught it the first time or the second time and are silently saying, "Quit talking. Just quit talking. PLEASE, quit talking!"
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.

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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Preaching for decisions: know when to land the sermon

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    The way I've heard it is more like this:

    1. Today I'm going to tell you how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. These are the points we'll cover.
    2. This is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. The first point is ...
    3. So what we have learned today is how Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. Here are the points we covered.

    Sometimes that approach can help people remember what was covered. But sometimes they caught it the first time or the second time and are silently saying, "Quit talking. Just quit talking. PLEASE, quit talking!"
    My thinking is that unless the sermon concludes with some call to action (not necessarily an invitation but some response from the worshippers ) that it wasn't a sermon that they heard. Does that make sense?


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