Thursday, April 8, 2010

How To Prepare A Concise, Exegetical Sermon Outline

My homiletics teacher gave me this general format you can use to get a clear, concise, and exegetical sermon outline that will be easier to follow and remember, help get and keep attention, and give you confidence you've rightly divided God's word.

1) Know your text. Pray and ask for wisdom (James 1:5). Select from a minimum of six verses of Scripture to one whole chapter, to make sure you get the context. Read your passage repeatedly (Psa 1:2; Psa 63:6; Psa 77:12; Psa 119:15; Psa 119:23; Psa 119:48; Psa 119:78; Psa 119:148).

2) Find your proposition. Ask yourself, What one thing does God require you to do in this passage of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? Write this proposition at the top of a sheet of paper. Use six words or less, and use only action verbs. Begin with, "you should", "you ought", or "you must". Alternately, begin with "God wants you to", in which case you can use up to eight words for your proposition. Here's an example:

Text: 2 Corinthians 4

Proposition: "You should keep heart" (2 Cor. 4:1)

3) Discover your supporting points. Underneath your proposition, draw a line down the center of your page, to make two columns. At the top of one column, write "Reasons". At the top of the other, write "Ways". Go through your text again, and list all the reasons or ways this passage gives to do your proposition, putting reasons under the "Reasons" column, and ways under the "Ways". Begin each list item in the "Reasons" column with "Because", and each item in the "Ways" column with "By".  Again, make sure you use only action verbs, and that each of your reasons or ways is six words or less. When you're done with that, weigh your columns to see whether the emphasis is more on reasons or ways you should do this one thing, and use that column for your main points.

Example: In the following text, it seems the one thing God wants us to do is to keep heart (2 Cor. 4:1).  After making a list of Reasons and Ways this action is to be taken, the emphasis seems to be more on the "Reasons", so I'll use reasons to take this action as my supporting points and transitional statement:

Text: 2 Corinthians 4

Proposition: "You should keep heart" (2 Cor. 4:1), or "God wants you to keep heart"

Transitional Statement: "There are four reasons God wants you to keep heart."

1) Because God saves the lost (2 Cor. 4:1-6). Unbelief can be discouraging when you preach. It's not our job to make people believe, but to be faithful in preaching the gospel.

2) Because God uses the weak (2 Cor. 4:7-12). We have this treasure in earthen vessels so the glory will go to God, not us. Don't let weakness discourage you .

3) Because God raises the dead (2 Cor. 4:13-14). Even if you die, God will raise you from the dead. Don't let the prospect of death discourage you.

4) Because God rewards the faithful (2 Cor. 4:15-18). A far greater weight of eternal glory awaits those who faithfully proclaim the gospel.

The challenge is to get things concise. But once you do, you'll gain the confidence you've rightly divided God's word, that you have a clear, exegetical outline, that it will be easier for your listeners to follow and remember your message, and that it will help you get and hold people's attention for God.


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