Someone suggested that this might be the worst sermon title ever. The Cock-a-Doodle Denial
By Ken Blue
‘For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8.
In my first article on the sermon, I stated that there are five steps in the construction of the sermon. These are: (1) the title, (2) the text, (3) the introduction, (4) the body and (5) the conclusion. Obviously, many pastors fail to understand the purpose or the power in the title. In fact, I have heard sermons that did not have a purpose or a title. If the preacher had one, he never let anyone in on his secret. Remember, in preaching, there is a difference between the subject, the theme and the title. The subject (doctrine), may be God. The theme may be the love of God; whereas, the title would state a specific example or personal application of God’s love.
Some years ago I took my first book to the local bookstore, and I asked them to place it on their shelf and sell it for me. The manager said, “Pastor Blue, I am sure the content of your book is good. But, the old saying is still true; it is the cover that sells the book.” He did not stock my book, and I have since attempted to improve the covers.
The same principle applies when choosing a sermon title. It must get the interest and attention of people, if you expect them to come. People are not searching for truth; they are looking for answers to life’s problems and pain. Of course, we know it is the truth that will set them free; but if we can’t get them through the doors, we cannot give them the truth they need.
The title should state in capsule form what the sermon is about, and there should be no doubt as to its purpose. One pastor copied the following sermon titles from a local newspaper. – “On the Road to Jericho,” – “No Longer Walking on the Other Side of the Road,” – “The Gathering Storm,” – “Peter Goes Fishing,” – “The Ministry of Cracked Pots,” – “Becoming a Titus,” – “Give Me Agape,” – “River of Blood,” and – “No Such Thing as a Rubber Clock.” These titles are ridiculous. You can see why no lost person would be drawn to church to hear these sermons. It is impossible for any to tell what the purpose is or how it would help anyone.
If you are trying to be cute, any title will do, but if you are attempting to reach the un-churched, the title must reflect the intent of the message in no uncertain terms. Here are some examples of understandable and helpful titles. “Five Steps to a Debt-Free Life,”- “How to Start Over When You’ve Failed.”- “How You Can Avoid the Four Marriage Busters”. – “How You Can Know God Exist.”- “How You Can Know God Loves You”. – “What You Can Learn From Your Pain”. – “Discovering Your Purpose in Life”. Each title is clear and addresses needs, and questions the un-churched have.
D. L. Moody said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” The sermon title is the message in a nutshell. The sermon, itself, should explain, inform, and apply the truth contained in the title.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.