The One Point Sermon

This past week, I received an email from someone who attended Good Shepherd for a season and then had to move to another part of the country.

Anyway, part of his email said that he and his family still remember and use the phrase “forgiveness is learned, so teach it well.” It’s a phrase I used in a sermon in 2006.

In fact, it was the one point from the very first one point sermon I ever delivered.

And by including it in his email — sent three years later from over 1,000 miles away — he demonstrated the power of the one point sermon.

See, for years I gave sermons that had three or four main ideas. We included a fill-in-the-blank outline. It’s the way the majority of pastors prepare and deliver messages.

But I’ve never had someone send an email three years after the fact saying “hey, Talbot, I still remember those three points that all began with the letter P!” Never.

In 2006, I read Andy Stanley’s Communicating For A Change and its simple logic gripped me. So I began the often arduous process of winnowing several main ideas into the one idea that must be preached — and then crafting the best way to say it.

That sermon-from-the-email back in 2006 came from the Jacob-Esau reunion story in Genesis 33, and focused on the impact it must have had on young Joseph. Previously, I would have preached that passage and gleaned a four-step process for forgiveness. That time, I narrowed it down to one: Forgiveness is learned, so teach it well.

Yesterday’s talk from James 2:1-9 focused on this: The favorites you play, play you.

The previous Sunday from James 2:14-26: Do something for nothing.

The final message in the Piece Of Work series: Your impact is greater than your memory.

From Psalm 23:5-6 in the Still series: God is a people chaser.

You get the idea. My prayer is that these sentences/phrases/truths will implant deeply in people’s minds, thereby shaping their lives Monday through Saturday.

Because you can remember and live one thing much better than four things.