How To Write A Sermon Outline
Generally speaking, a sermon has three parts – an introduction, a body and a conclusion. The introduction usually introduces the topical of your sermon. If you are going to talk about “How To Nurture a Dynamic Faith”, then your introduction should introduce this topic. The body of your sermon should simply expand and explain the topic. You may want to look at three ways to nurture a dynamic faith that leads to faithful service in your church and your community. The conclusion should reinforce the main points of your sermon and motivate people to take action so that their faith is dynamic in their service for the Lord.
So where does the sermon outline fit into the sermon. The sermon outline is simply the outline of the body of your sermon. The sermon outline is the road map that you follow when you expand and explain the topic or main preaching point of your sermon. I like to break the sermon outline into three parts – the main topic or preaching point, the sub-points and incidental points and the key word or hinge word. By the way, you can construct a sermon outline deductively or inductively. This post will refer to the deductive model for sermon outlining.
The Main Preaching Point
The main preaching point of the sermon outline is more than just the topic of your sermon. For example, you may want to preach on the topic of faith – that’s great. However, if you are going to preach on the topic of faith, you will need to look at it from some angle or perspective – How To Nurture a Dynamic Faith or The Benefits of a Dynamic Faith. You many want to preach on the topic of temptation. Then you develop an angle or perspective to temptation that you can preach. For example, you may look at How To Resist Deadly Temptation or How To Recognize the Subtleties of Deadly Temptation. So when I preach a passage of Scripture, I begin by asking myself: “What is the topic of this passage and from what angle or perspective can I preach this passage?”
Let me give you a couple of examples. In 1 Peter 4:7-11, you will find that the apostle Peter has just told his readers that Jesus could come back at any time. So in light of that truth, Peter asks his readers to live in light of Jesus’ return by being watchful in prayer, fervent in love, hospitable without grumbling and ministering to one another in word and deed. So the main preaching point can be: How to Live in Light of Jesus’ Return or How to Live While Waiting for Jesus’ Return. In Hebrews 12:1-2, you will find that the writer encourages his readers not to give up on running the race of life that is set before them. You could develop this passage with the main preaching point: How to Run the Race of Life Faithfully for Jesus and this involves determination, inspiration, freedom and focus.
Key Word or Hinge Word
Once you have decided on your main preaching point, you will need to find a key word or hinge word that will help you expand and explain your main preaching point. Let me give you some examples of key words or hinge words that will help you expand and explain your main preaching point. There are three WAYS to resist deadly temptation in your Christian walk. The first way involves understanding the source of temptation. The second way involves understanding the steps in temptation and the third way involves understanding the solution for temptation. In this example, the key word or hinge word is WAYS. The key word or hinge word helps you swing your sub-point from your main preaching point that has cohesion and sequence, that is, a natural flow in the presentation of your sermon. There are four MOTIVATIONS to help you run the race of life faithfully for Jesus. The first motivation involves having an attitude of determination. The second motivation involves being inspired by those who have gone before us. The third motivation involves laying aside everything that hinders and the fourth motivation involves looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. In this example, the key word or hinge word is MOTIVATIONS. The key word or hinge word is simply a plural noun that allows you to swing your sub-points from your main preaching point that provides a natural flow in the presentation of your sermon.
Sub-points and Incidental Points
Once you have decided on your main preaching point and your key word or hinge, you will need to expand and explain your main preaching point with sub-points and incidental points. Let me give you a couple of examples.
There are three ways to resist deadly temptation. They involve:
1. Understanding the source of temptation
2. Understanding the steps in temptation
3. Understanding the solution for temptation
Now you may want to expand and explain one of your sub-points. For example, there are three steps in temptation. They are:
A. Entertaining Sin
B. Yielding to Sin
C. Reaping the Consequences of Sin
When you put all this together, you will have a sermon outline that has cohesion and sequence, that is, you will have a sermon outline that will flow naturally as you present the material to your congregation.
Rev. D. Blackburn BA GDM
There are different types of biblical sermons. There are expository sermons, evangelistic sermons or topical sermons. You can write them deductively, inductively or a bit of both.
However, this post will explain what is a topical sermon and how to create a topical sermon from a deductive model.
A topical sermon usually explains a biblical principle or truth. You may want to teach on the topic of grace, faith, money, forgiveness, persecution, suffering, spiritual warfare, heaven, hell, prophecy and so on.
To write a topcial sermon, you need to choose a topic. Recently, I preached a topic message on heaven from Revelation 21-22.
Once you have chosen your topic, you need to create an angle or perspective to your topic. In the sermon about heaven, I took the perspective of looking at the wonders of eternal heaven.
The topical sermon outline is as follows:
There are four wonders of eternal heaven. They are:
- Heaven is a new place (Rev. 21:1-8)
- Heaven is a beautiful place (Rev. 21:18-21)
- Heaven is a populated place (Rev. 21:1-8)
- Heaven is a personal place (Rev. 22:4-5)
When I create topical sermon outlines, I keep three features in mind.
1. The Main Preaching Point
When I develop an angle or perspective to a topic, I usually call this the main preaching point. The main preaching point of the above sermon is The Wonders of Heaven. Everything that I talk about in this topical sermon will be about the wonders of heaven.
2. The Hinge Word or Key Word
Once I have created the main preaching point, I then look for a hinge word or key word to swing all the subpoints off the topic. In the above sermon, I have used the word wonders.
The hinge word or key word must be a plural noun. If you construct your topical sermon like this, you will have a natural flow to your sermon. For example, the first wonder of heaven is… the second wonder of heaven is… the third wonder of heaven is… and the fourth wonder of heaven is…
3. The subpoints and incidental points
The subpoints must expand or explain your main preaching point. When you do this, your topical sermon has cohesion and sequence.
The incidental points simply expand or explain your subpoints. In the above sermon, I expanded the subpoint Heaven is a populated place with three incidental points.
God is there (Rev. 21:3)
Jesus is there (Rev. 21:6)
Christians are there (Rev. 21:7)
As I said before, there are different ways to prepare topical sermon outlines. However, I find the method that I have explained above the best way for me.
The method above is a discipline that I have embraced as I prepare sermons week in and week out. You can find more information by clicking on Topical Sermon Outlines.
Sermon Preparation Tips
I have created this blog in order to discuss sermon preparation tips. In my many years as a preacher of the Word of God, I have deliberately defined the process of sermon preparation or what we often called homiletics – the science and art of preaching.
When you write two or three sermons a week, you need to have a process in place so that you can confidently produce sermons for your congregation.
I learned the basics of sermon preparation in my formal training. However, it was in my ministry experience that I really developed and defined my personal paradigm for sermon preparation.
In my early years of preaching, I tended to write deductive sermon outlines in my sermon preparation.
That is, I started with the main preaching point followed by sub-points and incidental points.
Later in my ministry experience, I had the opportunity to learn how to write an inductive sermon outline, especially with the narrative Scriptures.
Over the years I have continued to develop and define these methods of sermon preparation. In fact, I find it absolutely fasinating the process of writing and preparing sermons.
In light of all that I have said thus far, I would like to hear from other preachers their sermon preparation tips or how they developed and defined the science and art of preaching in their ministry.
Rev. David Blackburn BA GDM
How To Preach Without Notes
Let me say at the outset, preaching without notes is not referring to impromptu or extemporaneous preaching.
On the contrary, preaching without notes is a technique when mastered will help you preach with freedom in the pulpit without being tied to your notes.
Usually, impromptu or extemporaneous preaching involves little preparation; whereas, preaching without notes is all about preparation. That is, preparing your sermon in a way that allows you to preach without notes.
How To Preach Without Notes – The Key
To preach without notes, you must have a good sermon outline. After all, your sermon outline is your road map for sermon.
There are three reasons why Christians need to service the debt of love. They are:
- It is a continuous debt (Romans 13:8)
- It is a practical debt (Romans 13:9)
- It is a noble debt (Romnas 13:10)
Having a clearly defined sermon outline will free you from your notes in the pulpit. Futhermore, your sermon outline simply expands and explains your main preaching point.
When I preached the sermon above, I simply introduced the main preaching point, which was servicing the debt of love, by sharing a story about the need to love.
Once I introduced the main preaching point, I simply expanded and explained it with the three sub-points. It went something like this:
The first reason why we should service the debt of love is because it is a continuous debt. Then I expanded and explained the first sub- point. Next!
The second reason why we should service the debt of love is because it is a practical debt. Then I expanded and explained this second sub-point by telling a pertinent story. Next!
The third reason why we should service the debt of love is because it is a noble debt. Then I expanded and explained this point.
I concluded the sermon by simply restating the main preaching point and sub-points and by applying the main preaching point with a challenge.
Although I preached this sermon about 10 years ago, nevertheless I think I could easily preach this sermon again without notes. I still can remember putting this sermon together all those years ago. The sermon outline is still etched in my mind. Why? The reason is because I spend the time studying the passage of Scripture and putting the main preaching point into a sermon outline that allowed me to preach without notes.
What technique do you use to preach without notes?
Rev. David Blackburn BA GDM
The Difference Between Hermeneutics and Exegesis
When it comes to the interpretive process, it is essential to understand the four main terms used in the field of study.
The four terms we need to grasp the meaning of are: hermeneutics, exegesis, exposition and preunderstanding.
1. Hermeneutics is a set of principles that is used to determine the meaning of the biblical text under investigation.
2. Exegesis is the skilful application of sound hermeneutical principles to the biblical text under investigation in order to determine the author’s intended meaning.
3. Exposition is the communication of the meaning of the text of Scripture along with its relevance to present-day hearers.
4. Preunderstanding is the body of assumptions and attitudes the exegete brings to the text under investigation.
In other words, the interpretive process involves a set of principles (hermeneutics) that can be applied to a text of Scripture in order to find the author’s intended meaning (exegesis) so that the meaning and relevancy of the text can be communicated to the present-day hearers (exposition) with total objectivity (repressing of one’s preunderstanding).
Hermeneutics is a set of principles or guidelines; whereas, exegesis is the application of those principles or guidelines.
I learned hermeneutics in my formal training; however, it was not until I did further study that I completely understood the the four main terms in the interpretive process.
How did you learn and develop your understanding of hermeneutics in your ministry experience?
I would love to hear your feedback to this importance process in the preaching of God’s word.
Rev. David Blackburn BA GDM