The final moments of a sermon are highly strategic. The last opportunity to emphasize the main idea, drive home the application, stir motivation for response, etc. Then there is one other thing we may be inclined to include – an early advert for next Sunday’s continuation in the series, an early raising of need for what is to follow. I am not saying this should or should not be included, but I’d like to point out a couple of points to ponder before you choose to refer to series sermon today-plus-one:
Finish this sermon. Be sure to resolve the present sermon fully. Your mind may be wandering to the next in the series (or you may want to raise hope that next week will be better than this one), but be sure to preach a complete sermon now. This moment is primarily about today’s sermon, not next Sunday’s. (As you can tell from the site, I don’t recommend preaching through the text until time runs out and then picking up at the same point next time. Preach a complete unit of thought.)
Don’t undermine this sermon. It would be a waste of all that has gone before to end with something along the lines of, “. . . today was alright, but you don’t want to miss next week’s message! That one will really be something!”
Only dangle a carrot with care. Perhaps you are inspired by a well-written TV show that always leaves people at a cliffhanger and longing for next week’s episode. Remember that takes a high level of skill to pull off effectively. It is far easier to leave people disheartened and frustrated by doing this poorly. You may choose to leave some element of the sermon or text hanging in the air, but think it through carefully.
Let the title intrigue. Often all you need to stir interest in next week’s sermon is the title printed in the bulletin. The title is there to stir interest and to intrigue. I wrote a post on titles that may help – Titles: Tricky Little Things.
The end of this sermon may be an opportunity to motivate people to come for the next sermon. But think this through carefully, as it may just be a great way to undo the moment, dissipate focus and lose what you’ve been trying to achieve to this point. What do you think?