It is important to consider the opening to your message. The words (including songs, videos, stories, and announcements in a church setting) that precede your sermon/presentation can open minds and hearts to what you are going to say. The first line you speak helps people to decide how much more they want to hear, like the opening line of a sales pitch.
John the Baptizer was preparing the way for Jesus, but John wasn’t the storyteller Jesus was. Many people may be so taken aback by the whole “brood of vipers” thing John says in Matthew 3:7 that they miss the really good advice he gives that brood in the next verse. I love the way the NLT puts it: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, “We’re safe…” (Matthew 3:8-9a).
Every once in a while, we need to shake things up and tell people how it really is. John was pretty good at this. But in today’s boardroom, worksite, or church, we can’t call people a brood of vipers very often to get their attention (and if you do, you may end up with your head on a platter).
There are better ways to get people’s attention. We should be concerned with our opener. How do we get people interested in what we have to say? What’s your opener?
[It matters too, that once you have their attention (as John the Baptizer undoubtedly did), you have something interesting to say…something that could possibly change their lives, that no one else has said to them in just that way before, that truly makes a difference.]