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preaching article Four Time-Tested Ways to Outline Your Sermon

Four Time-Tested Ways to Outline Your Sermon

based on 5 ratings
Feb 14, 2014

Adrian Rogers outlined sermons using four phrases:

1. Hey You! (Get the audience’s attention)

2. Look! (Examine the Scriptures)

3. See! (Explain the passage)

4. Do! (Make application)

Andy Stanley is famous for one-point preaching, but really breaks his messages into five movements:

1. Me (How do I struggle with this?)

2. We (How do we all struggle with this?)

3. God (What does the Bible say about this?)

4. You (What should you do about this?)

5. We (How can we all live this out together?)

And I’m not sure who came up with it, but another well-known system is:

1. Hook (Get attention)

2. Book (Examine the Word)

3. Look (Expound the passage)

4. Took (Make an appeal)

The Puritans jumped right into point one of 27ish as they preached for several hours, and there are plenty of other outlining methods as well. I’ve changed my system several times over the years, which I think is important to keep us out of a rut. Lately, I’ve been outlining my messages around three movements.

Where We Are

In the first part of the message, I speak about the problem or issue that the message addresses, hopefully in a way that motivates my hearers to identify with the problem personally as in, “Oh yeah, I struggle with that, too!”

What God Says

In the middle part (the longer part), I dig into the passage, or sometimes several passages, that address the issue, provide a historical context and expound on the meaning. Sometimes there are three or for “points” here, but not always.

What's Next?

Finally, I move to how we need to live out the solution that God’s Word has provided. I try to be as concrete as possible, such as challenging people to go sign up for a ministry, buy a particular book, talk to their next door neighbor, etc.

I’ll probably tweak and change it up again soon, but for now, this system works quite well for me now.

Brandon Cox is lead pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding and social media. He and his wife Angie live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Talk about it...

Connie  Mccarroll avatar
Connie Mccarroll
0 days ago
This is really helpful.
T.j. Conwell avatar
T.j. Conwell
0 days ago
Great encouragement, thanks for sharing your (and others) thoughts on this.
Joe Mckeever avatar
Joe Mckeever
0 days ago
Excellent.
Richard Scotland avatar
Richard Scotland
0 days ago
I think it is good to change our style a bit as we preach in a church. Especially if we follow a Lectionary reading and are doing the same passage we did 3 years before. It makes it more interesting for me to prepare and deliver differently, so I assume it is the same for the congregation. Currently I am following Adrian's style but sometimes passages and experiences (and presumably the Spirit is at work here) lend themselves to a differing style.
Edward Lee Morris avatar
Edward Lee Morris
0 days ago
Eddy Morris--New Covenant Church -Thank you so much for sharing your three POINT any ENCOURAGEMENT to help PASTORS better communicate the word of GOD to GOD'S people is a BLESSING. Thank You Eddy Morris
Edward Lee Morris avatar
Edward Lee Morris
0 days ago
Eddy Morris--New Covenant Church -Thank you so much for sharing your three POINT any ENCOURAGEMENT to help PASTORS better communicate the word of GOD to GOD'S people is a BLESSING. Thank You Eddy Morris
Temitope Olayiwola avatar
Temitope Olayiwola
0 days ago
Very good method.
Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia avatar
Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia
0 days ago
The Association of Speakers Clubs in the uk had a similar focus in any presentation. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them. It works well for me. Whatever turns you on as the saying goes. As long as the message of God's love gets across it doesn't matter how you do it.
Cynthia Jennison avatar
Cynthia Jennison
0 days ago
One thing that seems to flow for me is following the outline of the passage itself.
David Rudd avatar
David Rudd
0 days ago
Recently, I've used 2 Timothy 3:16 as an "outlining template" to help me craft my sermons. I ask myself: 1) what is the good we should keep doing? (doctrine) 2) what is the bad we should cease doing (reproof) 3) what are we doing that we should do differently (correction) 4) what should we add (instruction in righteousness). it's not perfect, but it helps me see the passage differently.
Regi Pope avatar
Regi Pope
0 days ago
Hi pastor David, I like how you use 2 Tim. 3:16. I was taught at the college of biblical studies houston, tx 1) Doctrine - What's right 2) Reproof - What's not right 3) Correction - How to get right and 4) Instruction in righteousness - How to stay right. God bless!
Regi Pope avatar
Regi Pope
0 days ago
Thank you Pastor Brandon, Very helpful article. Dr. Adrian Rogers is one of my all-time favs! God bless!
Regi Pope avatar
Regi Pope
0 days ago
Oh, btw, hook, book, look, took I learned in a teaching lab class at cbs houston, tx.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.