I’m a big believer in providing action steps. When you end your sermon with one, specific call to action, you are tapping into what marketers already know. Now, we’re not marketers. We’re pastors. But we can learn from marketers. They know, for example, in order to increase the odds that someone will take action on a web page (buy something, subscribe to something, click something, etc…), they need to limit the clickable options to one thing – the most important thing.
If we take a lesson from marketers in this regard, we can apply it to how we end our sermons. Instead of leaving people saying, “now what,” or “so what,” we can provide them with a simple call to action in light of the message. There are many different types of actions steps you can end your sermon with. My hope is that what you find below can be a continued reference point as you craft sermons and sermon series throughout your ministry. Let’s dive in.
7 Types of Action Steps to End Your Sermon With
When the Gospel is preached, a response is a necessity. People are either going to be cut to the heart or further hardened to the Gospel. Some may seem to be non-responsive, but a seed was sown, nonetheless.
When you do a salvation action step as the ONE thing you are challenging people to do in light of the sermon, you’ll want to end with it. Tell people to come forward and make a decision.
It’s a good idea, when you do this, to have some other people down front to help in case more than one person comes forward. Have the worship team lead the congregation in a responsive song that is Gospel-focused.
Call people to come to Christ for the first time. Then praise God whether anyone comes or not!
2. Small Group Sign Ups
Our discipleship model at The Crossing is focused on getting people in small groups. We believe it’s the best vehicle to grow people in their faith. If you have small groups as well, or plan to soon, you’ll want to use this action step on a regular basis.
Most topics can relate back to small groups. Sermons that speak to relationships, pain, spiritual disciplines, and so much more can point the congregation to one thing – join a small group and GROW in this area while creating lasting relationships with others.
To do this right, you’ll want to be sure people know where to get signed up, how to get signed up, and what they’re signing up for exactly. You’ll want to make sure you have a team of people (if you don’t have a staff member over this area) who can follow up with the sign ups throughout the following week.
Call people to join Christ-centered community in the context of a small group. Talk about the impact of your small group, tell stories of other people being in a small group, show a video promo, or even have someone else come up to share their story and have them do the call to action.
If small groups is important in your church, be sure to have it as an action step in your messages on a regular basis.
3. Serve Sign Ups
Jesus said the workers are few. Amen?! If you find yourself thinking the same thing in your context, do two things – pray and call people to action. When people begin serving in a ministry in your local church, they begin to take on a sense of ownership, and that’s a powerful thing. If you want people to feel a part of what God is doing in the local church, help them get serving in a ministry!
Over the course of a year, you’re going to talk about serving a lot! It’s kind of a big deal in Scripture.
Real quick: DON’T BEG the congregation to serve. CALL THEM to serve. You’re a spiritual leader, so lead!
Okay, off my soap box… For now.
To risk coming off as repetitive: To do this right, you’ll want to be sure people know where to get signed up, how to get signed up, and what they’re signing up for exactly. You’ll want to make sure you have a team of people (if you don’t have a staff member over this area) who can follow up with the sign ups throughout the following week.
Call people to join in what God is doing through your local church. Teach them the necessity of serving, and then call them to take action and serve!
If people aren’t serving in the local church, call them to take action!
4. Invite a Friend
If you want your church’s culture to be a culture of invitation – where people are regularly inviting friends, family, coworkers, etc.. then you need to talk about it and call people to action.
There are some great passages that feature someone inviting someone else to go see Jesus. The woman at the well went and invited everyone she could to come and see Jesus. How simple it could be (and powerful) if you called people to take that very same action!
It should be said: make sure you are getting out into the community and inviting people as well.
A great thing to do on a regular basis is to have invite cards made that feature a friendly invitation (“come join us”), service times, location, and the church website address. Keep it simple and make sure it looks good.
Put these invite cards ON the chairs (or pews) in the sanctuary so everyone has to interact with them in some way.
At the end of the message, call people to pick up that invite card (if you have some made) and then invite them to pray for one person they can invite to church that following week, then call them to go and do it.
Create a culture of invitation – talk about it a lot and model it yourself.
5. Membership Class Sign Up
This is a great action step for messages that focus on the church’s mission on this earth. If you have a membership class (or whatever you decide to call it), then be sure to talk about it and call people to join in on what God is doing in His local church.
The gates of Hell will not prevail! If that doesn’t make you want to jump out of your seat and get excited, I don’t know what will.
Help people see the call in Scripture to belong to a local church and then call them to take action and join.
Talk about the part they play in fulfilling God’s grand mission here on earth.
Talk about what God has done and what God is doing in the life of the local church you serve in.
6. Spiritual Discipline
Read this in the Bible, pray for this, give to this, fast for this amount of time, get in solitude this day, etc…
Whatever it is, this action step can be a POWERFUL force in the life of the local church. What better way to practice unity than to all be focused on one thing, together, for a day or a week?!
When this is your action step, make sure that your other communication channels will push this specific action step throughout the week. Email, social media, blog, etc. need to all be focused on this action step to remind people of the call.
At the end of the sermon, be sure to explain exactly what you are calling them to do. If you are able to give them something to take with them (Bible verses to read, specific things to pray about, description of what they are giving to, etc…), then that will increase the likelihood that they will, in fact, take action.
7. Capital Campaign – Above and Beyond Regular Giving
While giving can and should be included in number 6, it’s also important to identify the action step that coincides with the beginning of a capital campaign, especially if you will have a pledge Sunday AND a first-fruits Sunday.
Typically when you go into a capital campaign, you’ll spend a lot of time talking about what the church is doing, but you’ll spend even more time talking about WHY the church is doing what they are doing. People will connect with the WHY, so talk about it a lot. But at the end of the day, it takes money to expand, build, and grow.
Make sure that when you are in a season of beginning a capital campaign that your sermons each have one, specific action step. Don’t tell them four things they should do in a week. Keep it to one.
i.e. decide what you are going to pledge over the next # of years, decide what you are able to give on the first-fruits Sunday, today’s the day to give toward the WHY and the WHAT!
If you are working with a capital campaign consultant, they should walk you through exactly how to do this and what will be most effective.
What Would You Add?
There are plenty more we could identify. What are some action steps you use to end your sermon with? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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