Fishing Sermons: 5 Baits to Ensure a Bite

One of the First Aims of Preaching from Rev. Adam Hamilton’s chapter on “Preaching” is called Evangelistic Sermons.


I’m sure you will agree that there are two times when the unchurched find themselves sitting in our pews: Christmas and Easter.  Hamilton let’s us know that these are the times we  need to go fishing!

Evangelistic Sermons

As we prepare for our highest recruitment days (Christmas and Easter) or “Fishing Expedition” opportunities as Hamilton states, it’s important to be very intentional.  He shares some strategies that have contributed to his success.

Hamilton warns pastors that we should not give over these entire days to the music ministry for cantatas.  He quotes, “While music can be a powerful evangelistic tool, very seldom will even the finest cantata speak to an unchurched person the way a well-crafted evangelistic sermon will.”

Hamilton suggests that we find a way to combine efforts of great music while crafting a very BASIC sermon. Our goal should be to help them understand the significance of Christmas and Easter for their daily lives.

Be Intentional With the Future in Mind

Not only do we want to prepare that day for our guests to enjoy their worship experience of great music, liturgical dancing, decorated halls and sanctuaries and yes, a great sermon, but it is necessary to have prepared in advance,  ‘fishing expedition’ sermon series for the next two months.

The goal is to use these two days as launching pads to serve in creating a hunger to want to know more which will increase the chances of them returning.

Hamilton makes it clear that this won’t just happen if you are only concerned with one Christmas day or the one Easter day.  There are some things you must put in place to increase your chances of  future success.

5 Baits to Ensure a Bite

  1. Make sure sermon includes the significance of how Christmas and/or Easter impacts their daily lives
  2. Include one or two moving stories about what the Gospel looks like in the daily lives of REAL people. (Video display)
  3. Make sure sermon includes a touch of apologetics.  (This includes a segment on defending why we believe what we believe)
  4. Make sure sermon includes a heavy existential component (This includes a segment why we exist, why I need this, what we are here for, etc.)
  5. Include a bulletin insert promoting your January/February ‘Fishing Expedition Sermons.’

What exactly are Fishing Expedition Sermons?

They are sermons crafted specifically for the benefit of the unchurched.  Some people have issues with the church and that is why they do not come on a regular basis. These sermons are designed to speak to their issues.  Look at a couple of Hamilton’s  Fishing Expedition Sermons:

1999  – Sermon series entitled, “Christianity & the Controversial Issues of Our Times”: Topics included: Death Penalty, euthanasia, abortion, homosexuality, etc.

2000 –  Sermon series entitled, “Where Was God When . . . ?” This series focused on tragedies in life, and addressed the number one question that keeps unchurched people from faith: where is God when tragedy strikes?

3 Benefits of Fishing Expeditions

  1. Increased Attendance.  Hamilton’s intentional well-crafted fishing expedition sermons yielded his church a 20% increase in attendance – that’s more than 1000 more people attending service per week.
  2. Excited Members. Because these sermons are basic and are designed specifically with the unchurched in mind, it makes it easy for members to promote and invite others to church.
  3. Members are Interested Themselves.  Members often have some of the same issues and or questions as the unchurched, so they are just as interested in hearing topics that address their own concerns.

I hope this helps you on devising an intentional plan to touch the lives of those whom you may only see twice a year by addressing their issues that keep them from visiting you regularly.  Let us all look beyond a single day to the future of filled churches with members on the move to advance God’s Kingdom.

Stay tuned for the second aim of Preaching – Discipleship Sermons.


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