How to Outline a Biblical Sermon

Biblical sermons must use the Bible as a basis for the thoughts they express.

Preparing a sermon varies somewhat from assembling teaching materials or organizing a speech. A sermon needs to not only convey information, it needs to make a point and whenever possible, challenge the hearers to respond to the message of the sermon. The sermon needs to have life application. When preparing a sermon outline, these ingredients need to be included in the thought process that leads to the sermon. Along with this, the outline needs to follow some biblical topic or passage. Once the topic or passage is selected, you are ready to begin producing the biblical sermon outline.

Open the Bible to the passage that you will be using for the sermon outline. Write Roman numeral “I” followed by the word “Introduction.” Create an interesting sentence that will give you a way to invite the congregation to want to eavesdrop on your sermon. This sentence should relate your topic or passage to something familiar to the listeners. For example, you might want to ask people if they have ever had a bad situation get worse. This could be used to introduce the disciples rowing in the storm at night and then seeing what they thought was a ghost walking on the wave tops. Use this sentence as the sub-point “A” under your first outline point.

Create two more supporting sentences that add additional dimensions to the opening point. These sentences can either build on the same thought or introduce new directions. For example, one sentence might suggest that things that look bad may turn out to be good if it means getting rescued. Another sentence could discuss that everyone can use some help even if they are experienced. These sentences will be labeled “B” and “C.” Together, these first three sentences will become the basis for the sermon introduction.

Write a sentence to introduce Roman numeral “II.” This sentence needs to tell the congregation something about the Bible passage or topic that will be discussed as the sermon is being revealed to them. Since even in mature congregations there will be a number of people who are not overly literate regarding the Bible, it is a good idea to briefly relate the passage being addressed. Following the previous example, use a few sentences that remind the congregation how the disciples ended up on the sea in a storm at night. Most passages will lend themselves to this style with the account being recorded in sub-points “A,” “B” and “C.”

Use Roman numeral “III” to start making your application of the text. In this case, you could state that problems do not always mean that you have done something wrong. Jesus had told his disciples to go across the sea at dusk while he went into a mountain to pray. Sub-points “A” through “C” can discuss the need for faith, looking for God in the storm and waiting for the miracle to happen.

Make point “IV” your time to challenge your hearers to apply the sermon's message to their lives. Continuing with the example, the sub-points in this section can be that "the problems will come," "how do you face the problems" and "what can God do for you." This type of configuration will have the congregation ready for your answers in part “V.”

Express your conclusions from the sermon in point "V." Here it is not always necessary to have sub-points "A," "B" and "C." The focus for your sermon can bring the congregation to a single point of decision, or you can have two or more points. In the example being used, your final sub-points might be that "people need to always stay close to God in order to be ready when the problems arrive," "let God be involved when the problems arrive" and "look for God in the middle of every storm." This overall type of format will let you create a sermon outline that has a defined introduction and conclusion along with three major points in between.

Allen Teal was first published in 2002 in the "Adult Teacher" and "Adult Student" books for the Assemblies of God Sunday School department. He has also been published on various websites. He received an Associate of Arts in business from Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Mo.