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The Expositors Collective

The First And Last Minute Of Your Sermon – Jonathan Pennington

By September 1, 2021No Comments

Super Doctor Reverend Jonathan Pennington (he said it, not us) is a professor, pastor, writer, podcaster, YouTuber and the list goes on.

The first sermon Jonathan preached was in Isaiah 55 at a small church where he later served as the associate pastor. He fondly recalls the encouraging words given to him after that first sermon that helped solidify his desire to teach. This encouragement and the positive words of a nice old woman are some of his fondest memories as a young Christian.

Jonathan mentions that shame and fear are the first results of the fall. This is a constant obstacle in the lives of all people. The encouragement that he has received over the years from members of his church, his wife, and his mentors has been a key ingredient in his growth over the years. He shares how each and every sermon is an act of creation and requires vulnerability. Just as we hope to hear God tell us, “Well done…”, our intentional acts of encouragement can bolster those around us.

In his book, Small Preaching, Jonathan also discusses the importance of the first and last minute of the sermon. While there will be a first and last minute of every sermon, Jonathan suggests that the first minute of your sermon is the most important. As the saying goes, you only get one chance at a first impression. With this in mind and the distractions encountered by everyone in the congregation, the first minute is key. Much like a sprinter preparing for a race, Jonathan recommends taking time before your sermon to step on stage, identify the position of the lights, the placement of the podium, and visualize your introduction.

While the beginning of a race will often determine the winner, the finish line is still the goal. Jonathan also emphasizes the importance of landing the plane before you run out of gas. He tries to be intentional with his closing remarks and ensure he makes his final point during the sermon and not during a prayer. While experienced pastors may be able to wing it, he notes that young preachers should take the time to write out those final words.

This is a wonderful conversation with so many golden nuggets of wisdom. Enjoy!

Expositors Collective listeners in the month of August get a special 30% discount on Jonathan’s book Small Preaching by following this link:

Further resources:


The Human Flourishing Podcast:

Coffee, Cars, Theology:

Sojourn East:

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

The Gospel Coalition:



Recommended Episodes:




The Expositors Collective is a growing network of pastors, leaders, and laypeople which exists to equip, encourage, and mentor the next generation of Christ-centered preachers. We provide resources through our weekly podcast, our two-day intentional training seminars, and interactive webinars.

Our next Training Weekend for young preachers (men and women 18-34 years old) at Rocky Mountain Calvary in Colorado Springs on September 17-18, 2021 will be a hybrid event: both online and in-person. In this interactive seminar, attendees will meet in groups and build ongoing relationships.

For more details and registration:

The Expositors Collective podcast is part of the GoodLion podcast network, for more thought provoking Christian podcasts visit

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