It happens to the best of parents. They jump in the car after church and head home. Miles and moments down the road, they suddenly realize that they forgot to tell their child they were leaving. They move from one point to another but did not take the child with them. They are miles down the road, and the child—left alone at church—wonders where his parents are.
On the spiritual and intellectual level, that’s what can happen in the area of preaching. A preacher moves from one point to another but fails to take his audience with him. Moments later, the audience is not certain where he is.
A preacher most often loses his audience in his transitions. Some time ago, I was listening to a preacher who had three points to his message. I only picked up the three points because he reviewed them at the end of the sermon. I lost him, though, as he went from one point to the next. I assure you that if I lost him, so did the others because I was listening very attentively. His transitions didn’t connect the points smoothly. This can be prevented in two ways.
First, a preacher must have awareness. When you are aware that transitions can lose your audience, you become very careful to do everything you can to keep the audience with you.
Second, a preacher must have clarity of direction. For example, suppose you are preaching from a passage in the Pauline epistles and you are addressing three essentials for unity within the church. After concluding your first point, you could say, “Having discussed the first essential to unity within a church, there is more Paul wants to emphasize. There is a second essential to unity within a church. The second essential Paul emphasizes is...” You are basically waving a flag in front of the people that shouts, “Hey, I am moving to my second point!” In so doing, you take the audience with you.
No parent wants to leave a child in route from one point to another. No preacher wants to lose his audience as he moves from one point to another, either. Awareness and clarity of direction will help keep the audience with you.