Preachers will often prepare their introduction to the sermon but neglect the conclusion.
The conclusion is even more important than the introduction.
Broadus says that John Bright, a great political orator of the past, stated that
however little preparation he may have made for the rest of a speech,
he always carefully prepared the conclusion.
Broadus says that the conclusion should move like a river, growing in volume and power.
Rhetorically, psychologically, and spiritually the conclusion the most vital part of the sermon
next to the introduction.
It is not in addition to the sermon but an organic part of it.
It is necessary to its completeness of form and effect.
It gathers up the various ideas and impressions of the message to make a final impact
upon the minds and hearts of the hearers.
The conclusion should be carefully prepared.
A preacher may on occasion modify it in his delivery, according to the state of feeling
which has been been reached by the preacher and the hearers.
In any case the preacher should have a well prepared, appropriate, and effective conclusion.
Broadus gives several guiding principles for a conclusion.
1. The conclusion should be a natural and appropriate determination of the discussion.
It should seem to the congregation to be the inevitable thing to be said.
It should be a logical end of all the arguments and a worthy proposal in the light of all the facts.
The true connectives between the body and the conclusion that the meaning of such words
as "therefore," "so," "consequently," "surely then," -- words that may not be spoken
but are nevertheless felt by those who hear.
2. The conclusion should the unmistakably personal in its aim.
Preaching is a personal encounter.
In the conclusion the preacher must be very conscious of his hearers and must speak
very directly to them.
He is a messenger an advocate of God.
He is beseeching, extorting, persuading, counseling, guiding, and challenging.
His conscious aim is not oratorical but personal and spiritual.
"I remind you," "I beseech you," "I plead with you," "I challenge you" are the words of his heart.
The second personal pronoun will be in his mind and often upon his lips.
3. The conclusion should be alive and energetic.
Broadus quotes J Oman as saying, "It is not enough just to stop,... words of wisdom
are to be as nails fastened in a sure place and your last word should be the right word
to fasten them."
Then Broadus says that weakness in manner, thought, or words only describes the nails
instead of driving them deeper.
Deep passion, thoughts that burn, strong words are the instruments required,
whether the conclusion be a direct drive on the will or an appeal to the heart.
The preacher should conclude strongly.
4. The conclusion should be definite and clear in thought and expression.
Precision is a proper standard for the preacher at every point in his sermon.
It must not be abandoned in the conclusion.
Broadus gives several methods for the conclusion.
One element is the conclusion of a sermon will often be recapitulation.
The conclusion will, the most part, consist of application, i.e. pointing out the bearing
of the truth preached on the lives of the hearers in some particular manner
or at some particular point.
Application usually includes also practical counsel in reference to some opportunity, duty,
or challenge that emerges from the truth of the sermon.
Often the claim of the sermon will be articulated in a direct appeal.
It would be wrong to suppose, as some preachers appear to do, that every sermon must end
with a very pathetic or overwhelming appeal.
Sometimes it might be best to end quietly and impressive.
Whatever the subject may require, a preacher should not speak in an emotional manner
unless he really feels it.
An effort to work oneself up into a feeling because it is desirable at this point will usually fail.
If it succeeds as to the preacher himself, it will be apt to make anything else than a good impression
all the hearers.
If an impassioned conclusion was prepared and the speaker now finds that his own feelings
and those of the audience have slowly subsided till there is not a good prospect of exciting them,
he should omit the prepared conclusion and modify its tone so as to attempt nothing
but what can be achieved.
Again the conclusion may center in pastoral exhortation, encouragement, or warning.
A concluding exhortation ought, as a rule, to be specific keeping itself in relation to the subject
that has been presented.
The final words of the conclusion may sometimes consist of a comprehensive and impressive
restatement of the subject which has been discussed.
The text itself may be the last words.
When the sermon has been developed out of the text and has exhibited all its wealth of meaning,
then the emphatic repetition of the text in closing will impressibly sum up all that has been said.
Or for the sermon may end with another passage of Scripture, or with part of a hymn, or a poem.
There seems to be a tendency to close sermons with either a story or a poem.
Neither should become a habit, but they can be used effectively.
The last sentence should be appropriate and impressive, but its style ought not to be elaborate
In most cases it ought to be the preacher's own.
It is a very solemn moment.
The preacher must not be thinking of his reputation but that of his responsibility
and of the salvation of his hearers.