Preaching Articles

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.

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Talk about it...

Daniel Stout

commented on Jul 31, 2013

Interesting thoughts. A couple of examples would have been nice but your comments certainly have me thinking about putting more thot into my titles. Thank You

Michael Fabunmi

commented on Jul 31, 2013

Agreed. Title makes serious announcement about the message. Hey Dan. For example if a pastor wants to preach on "KINGDOM AUTHORITY" Titles can be any of these. Just my thoughts 1) Victory by Kingdom Authority; 2) Exercising Kingdom Authority; 3) Breakthrough by Kingdom Authority ; 4) The Final Authority. At times, the titles speak more volume than the body of the message.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Jul 31, 2013

Thanks for this, Sherman. Once again, you have made a great point. In my sermon composing history, the title has always been the biggest challenge. Many times, I have given up and just gone with no title. thanks for reminding me of the title's importance. Blessings to you and your ministry!

Dr Elisha Mafunga

commented on Aug 1, 2013

I believe a Good Pastor always create a heading before he/she starts preaching. This helps the congregation to remember what the issues are about. If any preacher does not create a heading on which to preach, he will end up lost within his/her preaching because he has no base to refer to. Its like writing a storyline without the heading. The readers wont understand what the story is all about. Good preacher always know that and avoid preaching without a heading.

Rev. Larry West

commented on Aug 1, 2013

Titles have always been a headache for me. I do believe they are important, but for the life of me I can never come up with good ones. Every time I title a sermon, I always find myself second-guessing.

William Douglas Johnson, Sr

commented on Aug 1, 2013

Sherman, thank you for the insight. We need pointers in life and especially in what we write and say to our congregation. We can only point them to where we want them to go, if we know where we are going. I have experienced "drift" while speaking to our folks and once you lose them, it's hard to bring it back and regain their attention. Can't blame them either.

Pearlie Bynum

commented on Aug 2, 2013

Wonderful ! Always let your audience know what you are about to talk about .

Spencer Miller

commented on Aug 31, 2013

A sermon without a title is like a book without a title and not to sound too corny, it is also like a letter without a stamp because it would have a very difficult time getting to its destination.

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