Is sermon structure necessary? Do you need to spend valuable hours in the study putting together structured sermons? What do the scholars say?
Charles W Koller notes that sound sermon structure bring power to pulpit. And outline that stands out clear and sharp is the first long step to freedom in the pulpit. He also states that sound structure is helpful not only to the preacher, giving him a sense of timing, progress and proportion, but to this audience as well.
Bryan Chapell suggests that a well-planned sermon begins with a good outline. He states that the advantages of clear sermon outlines for the audience are obvious: good sermon outlines clarify the parts and progress of the sermon in the listeners’ minds and ears.
However, preachers may forget that sermon outlines are also important for the speakers benefit in that good sermon outlines clarify the parts and progress of the message for the preachers mind and eye.
There is no doubt that excellent preaching requires some structure. Structure helps both preacher and listener in the presentation of God’s word to God’s people.
James Braga encourages preachers to learn quickly the science and art of sermon structure because sermon structure brings cohesion and sequence to the message. As the sermon unfolds, the listeners are able to follow and see the nature progression of thought and application. There is nothing worse than to listen to someone who doesn’t really know what he is talking about.
Is it sermon structure necessary? I believe most scholars would suggest that it is very beneficial for both preachers and listeners.
When I started preaching, I needed to prepare two to three sermons per week. Within the first twelve month of preaching, I soon learned the importance of sermon structure. The last thing I wanted to do was to be writing sermons on Saturday night. Sermon structure helped me to get my messages written during the week.
The Structure of Sermons
I learned very quickly that sermons have three parts – an introduction, the sermon outline and the conclusion. I always developed the sermon outline first and then I added content to the sermon outline. Once I finished the sermon outline and its content, I would write the introduction and conclusion.
The Structure of Sermon Outlines
The sermon outline has the main preaching topic, sub-points and incidental points. The main preaching point was what the sermon was about. The sub-points and incidental points simply expanded and explained the main preaching topic.
I have always worked with the sermon outline to make it fairly straight forward. The last thing I wanted was a complex outline.
I preached a sermon on temptation from the book of James. The main preaching point was how we can resist deadly temptation. The sub-points were exclusive and parallel. We must understand the source of temptation, we must understand the steps in temptation and we must understand the solution to temptation.
Is sermon structure necessary? I believe it is very necessary if you want to preach with freedom in the pulpit. A well-structure sermon will give you the confident to preach messages with cohesion and sequence. After all, the sermon outline is your road map for presenting God’s message to his people.
Braga James, 1981, How To Prepare Bible Messages, Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon.
Chapell Bryan, 1994, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Koller W. Charles, 1995, How To Preach Without Notes, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan.