Do you struggle coming up with effective titles for your messages?
The truth is they do matter— if we title our message well, it will help people remember it, help people file it in their notes and, most importantly, it will keep the message top of mind as they apply it to their everyday lives.
Here are six traits that Ps Robert Fergusson covers in the Reach & Influence online preaching course, that help form an effective message title.
1. Encapsulate your whole theme
A good title must encapsulate your whole theme. Once you’ve decided that theme and maybe even written the entire message, what’s the one short statement that will encapsulate that whole theme?
2. Make it visual
A good title will be remembered if it is visual. Robert once delivered a message called “Pink Sheep”, and 15+ years later people still come up to him and remember that message. How can your title capture people’s imagination?
3. Make people think
A good title should make people think. A title such as “God’s First Question” will make people think, “How many questions does He ask?” or “What was His first question?” It makes people engage with the message before you’ve even begun sharing.
4. Emerges from the message
A good title will often emerge from the message. Sometimes it’s very difficult to discover a title until you actually preach it. If you can practice your message beforehand, it may help reveal what the most effective title will be.
5. Identify the message
An effective title will often immediately identify the message. Let’s say you put the title “The King’s Liberality”. Immediately people will know that that’s about the first chapter of the book of Esther. That way, the title lets people know what’s coming in the message.
6. Short and punchy
Finally, a title should be short and punchy. A title such as “Linger Longer” is simple, punchy and easy to remember.
Ultimately, a title is a memory device, just like Passover and communion— they are all memory devices that help people remember the message so that they can apply its principles in their day-to-day lives.
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