From time to time individuals question whether a sermon title is even needed. One person told me that all you need is just the text. This individual thinks that you should just call your sermon "John 3:16" or "Jeremiah 2:7" or whatever text you are preaching. I have not always titled my own messages, but over time I began to realize their purpose and need. In this article I want to give you four reasons why you need a title.
First, it helps you as the preacher. It forces you to clearly articulate the main point of your message. How many times have you gone into the pulpit without finely distilling the point of your message into a compact package? If you know exactly what the point is, it makes delivering and hearing the message much easier.
Pointer to the Main Thing
Second, it helps the people because it gives them a pointer to the main point of the message that you believe they should remember. A sermon title helps people to know what you as the preacher deem important about the message. Hopefully it will be clear in the sermon, but often it is not. It is also surprising how many people can miss the important point of even a clear message. It may surprise you how a simple aside may be what some members remember, while missing the whole point of the message. A good sermon title can give a pointer to the main point.
Third, it gives both the people and you a handle to aid in the memory process. A clear and effective title sticks in your mind and on your tongue and thus drives home the main point of the message. A year from now, they may be able to pull the whole sermon back because of an effective title.
Where Are You? Let the Title Guide
Finally, it helps you and the people in the preaching moment to remember where you are going and what you are doing. Have you ever been giving a sermon and lose your place? The sermon title is a guiding light back to home base (your main point). Have you ever been listening to a sermon and wondering what is really going on? The title is a promise that helps you organize the message in your mind.
Now, it is true that some sermon titles have nothing at all to do with the sermon. Sometimes they are jump-off points. These sermon titles will not help you in the ways I have articulated. But if the sermon title is a pointer to the main point of the message and an encapsulation of the message in some way, it will aid both preacher and the congregation in the hearing and remembering of the message.