Thursday, July 23, 2009

“And in Conclusion…on Conclusions”

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Yesterday, I began a two-part series on sermon conclusions, based on a pretty rough landing I had last Sunday when I was guest preacher for a church in Beaverton. 

Using the picture of flying a plane, we looked at three principles of conclusions:

1. Know where and how you are going to land before you take off.

2. Come in to land earlier rather than later. 

3. Don’t give false signals.

The list continues (and concludes) today:

4. Don’t confuse landing with take off.  Don’t use the conclusion to introduce a new point or a new element of teaching.

5. Making your landing as quick as you can. “Some conclusions are so long and drawn out as the message itself….. Some sermons touch down and then take forever to taxi to a standstill.  Avoid that tendency.”

6. Only land once. Keep your conclusion simple, to the point and not multi=layered or multi pointed.  Don’t appear to land and then take off again only to land and take off again and so on.  You will leave your listeners very confused and very uncomfortable.

The unknown author of these notes in my files concludes with a quote from Richard Ramesh in Preparing Expository Sermons:

“The conclusion is the final movement of the sermon, so it crescendos to a climax.  The preacher repeats or restates the central proposition (the main theme) to refocus the thoughts of the audience on what God expects of them.  The conclusion will evidence two features, cohesion and resolution.  Cohesion: The audience now hears in concise statements all the important points of the sermon.  Resolution: The audience now has the feeling that the destination set out in the purpose during the introduction has been reached.” (p. 217)

4 comments:

daniel said...
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daniel said...

man, great 2 part blog for me. the last couple weeks i've noticed that my introductions (possibly a discussion on intros?) and conclusions are consistently the weakest points in my sermons. thanks for the pointers!

i have a question about the nature of conclusions, in specific regard to your final quote here. I see how these tips fit well within a deductive type model of preaching, especially the cohesion and resolution points. If you were to preach a sermon inductively, would the conclusion function the same way (cohesion and resolution)? If not, what would be different about a conclusion you would give to an inductive lesson?

Cal Habig said...

I don't see that it would. In deductive preaching, you have presented your thesis and then you use the elements of the text to support that thesis.

In inductive preaching, you don't present your thesis until the end. You use the text(s) like building blocks to see what God is saying, and then you draw the conclusion at the end of the sermon.

At least that is my definition of the difference, and I don't see why closing out the sermon out differ significantly. It would differ based on the specific sermon, but I don't think in these regards.

The one exception I can think is if you want to use your thesis statement as the last statement of the sermon. "Therefore because of the text(s) we have looked at today, we can now clearly see that God wants this...". And immediately stop the sermon. It is kind of the climactic moment. No need for recap or a story: those would only take away the power of the declaration of the Word of the Lord. But not all inductive sermons have to end like that.

That is at least the only difference of which I can think. What was on your mind when you asked the question?

daniel said...

sorry about not getting back to this. life gets in the way of blog discussion sometimes :).

Umm, I've been struggling a bit transitioning into my conclusion from the main portion of my messages and I've observed that the choppiest conclusions I've given in the last couple of months have been during sermons that I took an inductive approach. I'm still struggling with it a bit...

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