What Does A Sermon Outline Look Like?

What Does A Sermon Outline Look Like? March 21, 2016

What does a sermon outline look like? How do you make one from scratch?

The Greatest Sermon Ever

If we look in the Bible and really, throughout church history, the greatest sermon ever preached wasn’t the one by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) or the Apostle Paul’s message to King Agrippa (Acts 26) but the Sermon on the Mount, given by Jesus in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus was making one overall point; that those who be like the salt of the earth or a light to the world (Matt 5:13-16) will be blessed in many ways for hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for being poor in spirit, those who are meek, the pure in heart, the merciful, the peacemakers, and even the persecuted (Matt 5:2-12). Jesus sought to bring home one point; there are blessings for being like God and being a light to a dark world and salt (a preservative) to a decaying and dying world.

Before the Sermon

Before you even create an outline for a sermon you must select what it is you think the church needs to hear. We know that pastors or preachers are called to sometimes rebuke, sometimes correct, or sometimes admonish (2nd Tim 2:15) but this depends on what you think the church needs to know or what they need to hear. If the church has a problem with gossip, you’ve already got an “in or out of season” sermon topic. Each individual church has different needs and variable issues so bath the sermon preparation in much prayer. The first preachers never used notes, they only studied and taught the apostle’s doctrine, which are the teachings that Jesus gave the disciples and we find that today in the New Testament. Some preachers don’t ever use notes; they simply use the text of the Bible and this type of preaching, verse by verse, expository preaching is the most effective of all sermons because it is giving the whole counsel of God in the whole of the context and unleashes the power of the gospel (Rom 1:16). So what if you don’t use sermon outlines; as long as your main text is the Word of God (at least 50%), you are doing what the early church did and God caused the church to grow because of this (Acts 2:47).


Main Verse

Sometimes there is one key Bible verse that a pastor or preacher wants to bring out and that is typically near the top of his sermon outline, just below the title of the sermon. This might be one or more verses but it directly relates (or at least it should) to your subject or topic and tie in with your title. Here is a sermon outline that I normally use (given as an example below).

Title: “What is Repentance?”

Main Verse:  Luke 13:5 “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

1. Is Suffering Always Due to a Person’s Sin?

a. Some people believe, like the ancient Pharisees, that if someone was rich, they were obviously favored by God (Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11).

b. Others think that death, sickness, or illness is God’s punishment (Luke 13:1; Job 19:2-8).

2. Is it Fair to Blame People for their suffering?

a. Do we all get what we deserve (Luke 13:2, 4)?

b. Our future without repentance and faith (Luke 13:3).

c. Examining Ourselves and Not Others (Luke 13:5; 2nd Cor 13:5)

Another Sermon Outline Format

Introduction by use of an example or analogy of an actual event or a story that introduces the topic or main idea, even if it’s from the Bible.

1. Question: Is the Bible Really the Inspired Word of God?

a. Scripture: “Thus says the Lord” occurs at least 418 times in the Bible.

b. Source: God claims that it is “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16).

2. Question: Is there Empirical Evidence to Support the Bible’s teachings?

a. Citations: Six-thousand complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts

b. Additional notations: Ten thousand Latin manuscripts

Conclusion: Repeating Main Points or Ending with the One Main Point.


We are told to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2nd Tim 4:2), regardless of whether it hurts the listeners or not. The author of Hebrews understood the power of preaching God’s Word as he wrote “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12) and this means that “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:13) so preach the Word in and out of season and reprove, rebuke, or exhort; whatever is needed.   The Word of God comforts those who are afflicted but it also afflicts those who are comfortable.  God’s Word cuts but it cuts in order to heal and that healing can bring eternal life to those who hear and believe.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    Not the words of any “god” Simple Jack. Delusional superstitious religious cultists wrote the words and the dysfunctional wicked church codified them. Of course you knew this right Simple Jack?

    • Patrick AndJude Powell

      Pud….seriously, stop….you have so much hatred in you…I pray for you

      • pud

        Go pray for your warts to go away. This has nothing to do with hatred..I don’t hate anyone or anything except stupidity. This is about contempt for your wicked death cult that you indoctrinate children with and seek to shape public policy around. If you just kept to yourself and didn’t vote I wouldn’t care what you did

        • Patrick AndJude Powell

          Lol, wow…I don’t have any warts…that sounded like a bully comment on a playground….that alone sounded hateful, pud. Seek to shape public policy? Hmm…interesting….your facts are off base. I have a right to vote, and what does voting have to do with how you are attacking this Pastor and the God he stands for? You should keep to yourself, pud, and allow this man his freedom and rights to teach the Bible. That’s what is supposed to be what’s nice about our country….freedom of speech, FREEDOM OF RELIGION
          ….I’m still praying for you

          • pud

            Boo Hoo..you cultists are so sensitive. Yeah you have a right to vote and that’s the problem. You vote your “beliefs” not using reason or logic and your “beliefs” are absurd and ridiculous. That’s what makes your cult so dangerous. You do not care in the least for reality, reason, evidence, logic or progress…you care about your theocratic ambitions.

            The “god” he stands for is a genocidal mental case. The very words in your book convict him.

            I will not keep silent until you go the way of Zeus and Thor. You are wicked, evil, stupid and dangerous to all that humanity has struggled for.

            Save your nonsensical bleating and begging to the deity…hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and it’s absurd on every level

          • Patrick AndJude Powell

            May God have mercy on your soul, even though you don’t believe in Him, He is for real….He created you, and you have no idea how dangerous your hate and rhetoric are to others who read this, and most importantly to yourself. I pray that one day, pud, you will cry out to the One and only living God, before it’s too late for you. I am saddened for you, I truly am. You keep refering to
            Christians as cultists, and religious. Atheism is a religion. Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with God. I’m not sure why you wrote boohoo, though. I’m not crying, my feelings aren’t hurt at all. Here’s something you need to know, even though you don’t believe in
            God, He believes in you, and He loves you even though you spew venom. He sent His Son, Jesus to be TORTURED, and DIE for your sins and for mine….He rose again so that you and I will one day have eternal life, and not live a life separated from God….when you take your last breath on this earth, pud….where will you go? Will you spend eternity in utter darkness and torment? Or will you make that choice to believe, repent of your sin, and live life eternal in Heaven? I would be saddened if you chose torment. You can call Christians names all you want…but your words don’t make God not real….nothing you DO will change who He is…your Creator, who wants so desperately to know you, to let you know He loves you, cares for you, wants the best for you, and MOST importantly, wants you in Heaven with Him. Pud, I don’t know you, but I pray for you…I pray for you to know how much you are loved….any hurts you have experienced, God cares about, and wants to walk through life with you. So, again, I pray for you, pud, I really do. Peace to you

          • pud

            Of course you can demonstrate the existence of a soul right? Wouldn’t want the deity torturing me for eternity for non belief in the absurd would we?

            You make all these claims…”he created you” “souls” “the only living god”

            Can you demonstrate a stitch of this rubbish? Of course not.

            Any “god” so inept that he had to conduct a HUMAN SACRIFICE to made things right is not worthy of shit. Any idiot who reveres human sacrifice is an idiot.

            I don’t live my life under the directive of a dictator who holds an eternal gun to my head. Slaves do that.

            You KNOW NOTHING…you “believe” nonsense

            Go pray your brains out…the moms in the childrens cancer wards are doing it to no avail so you might as well beg the deity for your petty desires

          • Patrick AndJude Powell

            Hmm…Jesus wasn’t just a man, so it wasn’t a human sacrifice. Well, it’s a good thing you can’t stop me from praying for your soul….maybe one day, should your eyes be opened to the truth, you will thank me for praying you into The Kingdom. I’m so sorry for whatever loss or horrible hurt you have experienced, and I’m sorry for the root of all of your anger towards God. I truly am. And since you’ve begun swearing, I’ll be done with my comments. ( my husbands name is before mine, so, you’re being rude to a woman) Lord Jesus, I pray for puds soul….I pray for his anger and his hurting heart to be healed…please, Lord, have mercy on him, before it’s too late for him….amen.

          • pud

            Oh really? Demonstrate how you KNOW this rather than simply “believe” it…show it or you don’t know it.

            Tell me how you KNOW what is true…what methodology do you employ to actually KNOW something is true.

            I have no loss or hurt…that’s a common ploy used by you cultists when you’re confronted with reason and evidence that challenges your absurd notions.

            OH NO! Before it’s too late! Repent or die! Worse..burn for eternity! Wow you sure scared me…where do I sign up?

          • pud

            Oh no..naughty words! I’m so sorry! I bet you never heard an off colored word in your entire buybull indoctrinated life huh?