Three Ways To Make Your Sermons More Engaging — Both Online and In Person

David Murrow

1. Hook your audience in the first 30 seconds

Many sermons start out with announcements, welcomes, historical background on the text and scripture readings. This is fine if you have an attention monopoly and a captive audience. But your online viewers will quickly abandon your message if you don’t immediately give them a reason to keep watching.


Start every message with a hook.

A hook is: 1) a compelling story; 2) an attention-grabbing visual, or 3) an intriguing metaphor. The very first thing out of your mouth should be the hook.

For example, if you’re preaching on James Chapter 3, start your message by lighting a match. Tell the story of a destructive fire that was started by a single match. Then transition to James 3:6 – The tongue is a fire.


2. Show — Don’t Tell

The more visuals you can put into your message, the better. Still images, video clips, and objects (like flaming matches) are especially important online because you’re competing in a visual, storytelling medium. (Visuals also help Audience #1 stay engaged).

3. Build your entire message upon a single hook

A wise pastor keeps going back to the same hook. Keep lighting matches throughout your message. Build your points around fire metaphors:

  • How to deal with a “relationship arsonist”

  • Quenching the white-hot flames of an untrue or unkind word

  • How to rebuild after you’ve been burned

About David Murrow

Author, speaker, video producer and all-around nice guy

David Murrow, a.k.a., The Online Preaching Coach, trains pastors in the art of on-screen communication. He spent four decades in the television business, and his work has been seen on ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS, Discovery Networks, BBC and dozens more. David is the author of Why Men Hate Going to Church, the groundbreaking book that changed the way thousands of congregations do church.

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