to Prepare a Sermon Outline
Topical Sermon Outline Format
Rev. John Hamel
"Dear Brother Hamel - I am not able to express the gratitude I have for
your sharing this information on sermon preparation. I will just say that I
thank the Lord for you. This has helped me immensely and I have read several
books on the subject. Yours has just hit home with me. God bless you and
yours, VJS, Mississippi"
to the JHM Online Bible Training Centre Homiletics 101 Course
Lord gave the Word: great was the company that published it." (Psalm
Online Dictionary defines homiletics as "the art of writing and
Greek word for homiletics is "homiletikos," which means "to
converse with." That is what writing sermons and preaching the Gospel
of Jesus Christ is - conversing with others on behalf of Almighty God.
or writing and preaching a sermon, is not as difficult as it might seem. It can be as complex or as
simple as the Preacher would like. Although grammar is important, your
sermon does not have to be grammatically perfect.
do you, the Preacher, have to be perfect in your presentation.
striving for excellence is important, preaching the Gospel is not about the
Preacher. Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about what the
Holy Spirit is saying to the people through the Preacher.
is not to say that your preparation and presentation should not be done with
excellence, for it should. The preaching of the Gospel of the Lord
Jesus Christ is the most important job in the Earth. It must be done
with excellence. It must be packaged with excellence.
the Gospel Preacher must not become obsessed with the mechanics of
preparation or get carried away majoring on minors.
I was in Bible School, my Homiletics Professor always reminded his students
of what he called the "K.I.S.S." approach to sermon preparation.
Keep It Simple, Students.
will take a rather simple, yet inclusive, approach to writing a sermon in
will be using what is commonly referred to as a "Topical Sermon Outline
is called "topical" simply because the Minister chooses a topic on
which to base their sermon outline and stays with that topic throughout the
delivery of the sermon.
the student, can feel free to adapt the Topical Sermon Outline Format to
and enjoy this brief, yet slightly detailed, homiletics course.
However you choose to use it, I am confident the Topical Sermon Outline
Format will serve to make you a
better, more organized and easier to understand Minister of the
you have completed this Homiletics 101 course, ask the Holy Spirit to lead
you as to how you can best utilize it to enhance your preaching and teaching
Topical Sermon Outline Format
are three primary components to a Topical Sermon Outline Format.
are the Introduction, the Main Body and the Conclusion.
is a visual to aid you in picturing the three primary components.
Introduction to your sermon should be no longer than 10% of your entire
means if you have thirty minutes to preach a Gospel message, your
Introduction should be no longer than three minutes.
same Gospel message should have a Conclusion that is also no longer than 10%
of your entire sermon length.
this case that would mean your Conclusion should be no longer than
the pencil to this you understand that with a thirty minute message,
allowing for a three minute Introduction and a three minute Conclusion, you
now have twenty-four minutes to preach the Main Body of your thirty minute
stated, your Sermon Introduction should be no more than 10% of the entire
length of your message.
The Introduction should also include the title
of your message, the topic / subject you have chosen and a related opening verse of
Scripture which is commonly referred to as a "Text
the end of this lesson you will find a short, but completely developed,
sermon illustration where I will show you exactly how to put these
your Intro it is also helpful to give a short related testimony, tell a short
related story, in some cases even a short joke
that is related to your topic, in order to immediately catch the attention
of your hearers. If you do not get their attention during the Intro,
you will most likely have difficulty doing so later. Everyone loves a human
interest story, or a funny joke. It both catches their attention and sets
them at ease.
be very careful that you never use humor at the expense of God's Word, your
message or your hearers. Do not tell jokes just to be funny.
Tell them only if they relate to your topic, help your hearers to better
understand you and to bring glory to God. Never be offensive.
Always be respectful. You are the Holy Servant of a Holy God.
Propositional Statement is your sermon in a nutshell. It is the main thought
you want to convey to your hearers throughout your sermon.
example, if your sermon is titled "The Wonderful Goodness of God,"
your Propositional Statement could simply be "God is a Good
"Prop" should be stated in the Introduction, at least once under
every Main Division Title and again during the Conclusion of your
sermon. You will see this in my illustrated sermon.
repeating the Prop in this manner, your hearers will go from your presence
remembering your sermon in a nutshell - "God is a Good
it suits you, you may underline your Prop in yellow throughout your outline,
in order to help you remember to state it.
Transitional Sentence is a simple thought that deliberately connects the
Introduction to the first Main Division Title of the sermon Main
Body. You will see this in my illustrated sermon.
sentence should be very brief. You may underline it in red if it will help
you to remember to use it.
Transitional Sentences are not employed throughout your sermon, you could
come across as fragmented, a bit choppy and possibly confused. Transitional
sentences will smooth out your delivery quite nicely, as you will see.
will see the proper use of Transitional Sentences in my illustrated sermon
at the end of this course.
First Main Division Title
is the beginning of the Main Body of your sermon.
is the first main point you will make in your message. For easy
reference during your preaching, you might underline your Main Division
Titles in blue.
may use as many Main Division Titles in the sermon Body as you like,
however, three to five is a very good average.
You do not want to
overwhelm your hearers with too much information. Remember the K.I.S.S.
principle. You are not trying to have the final word concerning your
Too much information can quickly
lose the interest of your
do not care how much you know, they want to know how much you care. Showing
out and showing off how much you think you know about the Bible does not say
to people that you care about them.
things simple and deliberately communicating says a lot about how much you
care about people. Remember, you are feeding sheep. You are not
feeding monkeys up in the treetops. Keep it down on a level where the sheep can
easily get it.
of the most difficult aspects of proper sermon preparation is, "What am
I going to leave out?" As opposed to, "How much can I
possibly jam-pack into this message?"
us go back to the math we did earlier. If you have thirty minutes to
preach and you devote three minutes to the Intro and three minutes to the
Conclusion, this leaves you twenty-four minutes to complete the Main Body of
you have four Main Division Titles (4 points) in your Main Body, this gives
you six minutes per point on average, equaling the remaining twenty-four
minutes. This creates a well-balanced message that makes sense to your
hearers and keeps them from confusion.
course, this is just a rough approximation and you do not want to be timing
your delivery with a stopwatch. This is just a general guideline to keep in
mind in order that you may present a well-timed and a well-balanced
message. It is not always possible to balance your sermons out like
this, but it is something for which to strive.
Main Division Title Should Include the Following
Scriptural Support: You will want to include one or two verses of
Scripture to prove that what you are stating in each Main Division Title is
Biblical. It is perfectly acceptable to re-use your opening Text Scripture
from your Introduction if you so choose.
Without proper Scriptural support you are not preaching a sermon,
you are simply giving a lecture.
Be sure your
chosen Scriptures are in context and that they are
truly supportive of the point you are making.
makes for easier preaching if your Scriptural support is copied right onto
your outline. This will help you to not have to be continually turning
pages in your Bible to find your Scriptures. In the age of computer
technology I now prepare all of my sermons right on my computer, copying and
pasting my Scriptural support from Online Bibles and then printing out my
years ago, prior to my use of computers, I would take scissors and cut my
Scriptures out of older paperback Bibles I would find in used book stores,
taping them onto my outline exactly where I needed them to be. I would also
use a copying machine to copy the Scriptures I wanted to use from my
Bible. Then I would cut the verses from the copies and tape them onto
my outline where I needed them to be.
Argument: You will want to argue your point even as an attorney would
argue his case. Possibly, by process of elimination, one at a time,
you could disprove all opposing positions to your point, thereby proving
your position is correct. This is called "deductive
may argue your point however you like, as long as you do so in as positive a
manner as possible. Never go full-bore negative. Even if you are right,
it turns your hearers off.
Explanation: Explanation is self-explanatory. Carefully explain, as
simply and briefly as possible, why your hearers should believe the truth of
what you are proclaiming.
your explanation is actually already contained within your argument, and you
may allow your argument to serve as your explanation.
be sure you are not leaving your hearers to wonder what it is you are trying to
without rambling, exactly why your hearers should believe what you are
Illustration: An illustration is a window into what you are saying.
If you use personal illustrations, it is best to use them from your own life
and not just from the lives of others. People need to know that you are
speaking experientially, whenever possible.
illustrating how you personally applied the principle you are teaching your
hearers and how the Holy Spirit of God responded to you
affirmatively. Some call this giving a personal testimony.
Personal testimonies give
powerful insight into what you are proclaiming.
illustrations from Bible narratives and the lives of Bible characters is
also very effective in preaching the Gospel.
may also want to consider using word pictures as Jesus did, such as the
"Bread of Life," the "Water of the Word," the "Wind
of the Spirit," the "Salt of the Earth," etc., whenever they
Personal Application: At this point you will want to explain to your
hearers how they, too, can utilize the principles you are revealing to them
and the results they can expect from a faithful God.
the personal application of your message is contained in your
illustration. Just be sure that you always include personal
application for each of your points.
your hearers not only what to do, but tell them exactly how to do it.
do not want to leave your hearers thinking, "He told me WHAT to do, but
he failed to tell me HOW to do it."
example, if you are decreeing from Scripture, arguing, explaining and
illustrating the importance of trusting in the goodness of God, tell them
how to do so. Tell them to say in their hearts, or even aloud with
their mouths, "God, I believe You are a good God. I believe You
want to help me."
possible, lead them in a personal
application of what they have heard. It helps them to unleash faith and God
will respond to that.
you do it, tell your hearers HOW to do WHAT you are telling them to do.
Whenever possible, illustrate for them how you did it or how you do it.
Your Propositional Statement
will want to remember to restate your Prop at least once under every Main
Division Title. You determine where you think it is best to do
so. You will see how I do this in my illustrated sermon.
Your Transitional Sentences
will want to use a Transitional Sentence as you go from your Intro into your
first Main Point, between each of your Main Points and as you transition
from your final Main Point into your Conclusion.
also see how I do
this in the illustrated sermon at the end of this course.
the Conclusion should be approximately 10% of the entire sermon
length. A thirty minute sermon gives you approximately three minutes
to wrap everything up and to close.
Conclusion must contain a simple, brief re-statement of each Main Division
Title, and the title only. Do not re-preach your entire sermon here.
Conclusion should also contain a re-statement of the Prop.
the Conclusion must also contain some sort of personal application of the
entire message for your hearers.
You should not only tell them HOW to
apply the message you just delivered to their lives, you should also give an
altar call so they can immediately apply what they just learned.
may call them forward and lay hands on them, maybe pray a mass prayer over
the entire congregation, or anything else the Holy Spirit might be leading
you to do at that time.
you close out your sermon, be sure to show your hearers exactly HOW to apply
what they have learned, or you have left them asking questions as opposed to
having received answers.
not rush through the Conclusion, but do not prolong it either. Remember, it
should be no more than 10% of your sermon length.
you pray for people who respond to your message, it would be beneficial to
continue to restate your Prop whenever you feel it is
important thing in closing out your message is to now stay continually in
tune to the Holy Spirit within you. He knows things about the people
who are responding to you that you do not know.
Stay sensitive to Him
at this crucial time in your message. He may want to impart
supernatural revelation to you concerning the people for whom you are
praying. When you reveal to them what He shows you, it will stir their faith
for their miracle.
in mind that the Holy Spirit does not supernaturally reveal things about
others to His Preachers to make His Preachers look good. He does so to
glorify Himself, to confirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to help people
to have faith for their miracles.
to encourage the people to keep their eyes on Jesus and not upon you or
anyone else at this time. This is where the Holy Spirit will confirm
the Word you preached with signs following.
following is another visual to help you picture what you have just learned
about the Topical Sermon Outline Format.
Below the visual is my illustrated topical sermon outline for you to see an
actual sermon layout.
Illustrated Topical Sermon Outline
is a Topical Sermon Outline which I have illustrated for you.
I have included the underlined component names for you to understand more
clearly what is happening in this outline, you need not do the same unless
you so choose.
you will become very proficient at using this format in a way that is best
"The Wonderful Goodness of God"
"Every good and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from
the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of
turning." (James 1:17)
good to be with you again this morning. The Holy Spirit has been working
some things in my heart concerning the "Wonderful Goodness of God"
that I've been looking forward to sharing with you.
God is a good God and that will never change!
denomination I grew up in taught me about a God of anger and punishment.
One day I decided to read my Bible for myself and I discovered that God is a
God of Love. He is the Blesser, not the damner. Even as the text
Scripture which I just read to you states, good and only good things come from
God and that will never change.
Joke: I always say, "If
it's good it's God, if it's bad it's the devil." And don't ever let the
devil tell you otherwise. The devil is a fallen being and a liar.
He's so dumb he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat!
I want you to know of a surety today that ...
Division Title: I. Only Good Things Come from God
Support: Right here in our text which I've already read to you, James said,
"Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the
Father of lights."
Who can argue with this? It's written right here in the Bible.
Some say God is mean and punitive. But the Bible says He is good and
only good things come from Him. Jesus said that Satan came to kill, steal and
destroy, not God. Jesus also said that God sent Him to the Earth that we might have life and have
it more abundantly. You'll find that in John 10:10. Now that's good.
God is a good God and that will never change!
One day Jesus came down from the mountain and a leper came to Him. The
leper knew Jesus could heal, but he wasn't sure Jesus would heal. Let me
read it to you, please.
He was come down from the mountain great multitudes followed Him and, behold,
there came a leper and worshiped Him, saying Lord, if Thou wilt thou canst
make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand and touched him saying, I will; be
thou clean and immediately his leprosy was cleansed." (Matthew 8:1-3)
tells us that it is not always God's will to heal, but Jesus says
otherwise. He said to this confused leper, "I will" or
"It is My will."
Application: Possibly you have been bound by religion, wrongly believing
that God, not Satan, is the source of all evil and sickness. You can see
right here from the Bible that sickness could not possibly come from God, or
it would not have been Jesus' will to heal this leper.
I encourage you
today to believe what you see in the Bible. Believe that what Jesus did
for this leper, He wants to do for you. If you're sick, believe He wants
to heal you. If you're sad, believe He wants to give you joy. If
you're lonely, believe He will comfort you. If you have a need, believe
He will meet it, for He is a good God and He loves you.
Notice something else James said about the goodness of God. He said ...
Division Title: II. God's Goodness Will Never Change
Support: Let me read it to you again. "Every good and every
perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with
Whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning."
God is a good God and that will never change!
James said, "with Whom is no variableness neither shadow of
What James is saying is that God is not fickle like human
beings. There is no variableness in Him, meaning one minute He's good, the
next minute He's not. He's the same all the time. If He was good
yesterday, He's good today. If He's good today, He'll be good tomorrow.
God Himself said, "For I am the Lord, I change not." (Malachi
The Apostle Paul said, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday,
and today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
This means if He healed
that leper yesterday because He's a good God, He will heal and help you today
because His goodness never changes.
Notice the way James put it here in verse 17.
He said there is no "shadow
of turning" with God. James is referring to a sundial, the way they
kept time in Jesus' day.
James is saying that God's goodness is as
reliable as the shadow on the sundial.
God's goodness is as consistent
as the shadow on the sundial. It's steady. It's predictable.
It goes in one direction and it doesn't turn back.
you understand what James is saying? He's saying God's not going to be
good one minute and turn back and be bad the next. Just as it's
impossible for the shadow on the sundial to turn back, it's not possible for
God to turn back. He's good now. He always has been good. He
always will be good.
Application: I want to encourage you this morning to make personal
application of what you have heard by trusting in the
unchanging goodness of God. Trusting and having faith in the goodness of
God is one of the Foundational Doctrines of the Bible. (Hebrews 6:1-2) Without trust in
God, without having faith in His goodness, it's just not possible to please
Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
I encourage you, trust in God's goodness. I
encourage you, release your faith in His goodness and expect Him to help
you. Nothing would please Him more.
So in conclusion, I beseech you again to believe that ...
Only Good Things Come from God
God's Goodness Will Never Change
God is a good God and I say it again - that will never change!
Application: Possibly you've been believing that bad things come from God.
Possibly you've been believing that all the bad things in your life came from
God, but you've seen from the Bible today that God is a good God. You've
seen from the Bible today, that will never change. You've seen from the
Bible today that Jesus wants to help you the way He helped that leper when He
said, "It is My will."
is saying to you today, "My Father is good. He is the Source of all
good and only good. He will never change. I, Jesus, will never
change. The Holy Spirit will never change."
come, let us release our faith in God's goodness together and expect your
miracle as I pray for you.
Bible says that Jesus' disciples, "...went forth and preached
everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs
following." (Mark 16:20)
101 Basic Tips
preaching of the Gospel is the most important job in the universe and it
must be done with excellence.
sure your life does not contradict what you preach. You will make
mistakes, yes, but be mature enough to admit it when you do. Confess
your sins, make amends if necessary and move forward, continuing to respond
to the Call of God on your life. (1 John 1:9)
your sermons well in advance. Do not be the type of Preacher who does
not bother to study all week for his Sunday morning service. You may
get away with preparing Saturday Night Specials for awhile, but soon the
anointing will fade if you continue to grieve God, taking advantage of His
goodness in this way.
sure your presentation is not too fast. Make it easy for your hearers
to follow you. Speak from your diaphragm and use as clear and as low a
voice-tone as you comfortably can. Avoid being nasal and whiney. Do not be
afraid to shout for emphasis.
your best for the Lord when you're in the pulpit. Frumpled, undisciplined
dressing habits send a wrong signal. How can you expect people to take
you seriously when it appears to them you do not take yourself
the word "we" in place of "you" when bringing a word of
correction from the Bible, so your hearers will not get the impression you are elevating
yourself above them.
positive by making statements such as "Always remember" as opposed
to "Never forget," etc. At least try to take the positive approach
all corrective strokes upward, reminding your hearers of the power of
repentance and the goodness of God.
Never allow yourself to point or
shake your finger in the face of your hearers. That comes across extremely
condescending and disrespectful. Keep in mind your hearers came to listen to
you because they wanted to, not because they had to.
When using your hands,
always try to keep your palms facing your hearers. Palms facing towards
yourself communicates selfishness and pride.
not pick, poke or adjust certain parts of your body while in the pulpit.
Unfortunately, this needs to be said.
eye contact with people on both sides and the back of the room in which you are
preaching. Be deliberate in making everyone feel welcome.
a younger person and an older person to continually make eye contact
with. When the younger person and the older person both begin to show
signs of seeing what you are communicating, that's a pretty good indication
that you're reaching most everyone.
not pace back and forth, but deliberately walk from one side of the room to
the other, establishing a rapport with everyone in the room. Do not stay
bound to the pulpit.
it is your Church, keep all clutter off of the platform, out of the Sanctuary,
away from entryways, even out of your vehicle, your home and from your person.
When people see clutter surrounding your life, they see it as an expression of
confusion in your soul and a lack of self-discipline. This makes it very
difficult for people to receive from you or to even trust you.
particularly when saying hard things.
criticize your spouse or your family openly or in private to anyone for any
you make a mistake while ministering, do not draw attention to it by apologizing
repeatedly, if at all. Correct your error and move beyond it
ever apologize or make excuses for God's Word, your delivery or your content.
the importance of always keeping your word, or immediately apologizing if you
are unable to do so. Preachers who do not keep their own word do not qualify
for the privilege of preaching God's Word. God is a God of His Word, and
we are to imitate Him as dear children. (Ephesians 5:1) Preachers who have a
habit of constantly breaking their word when they give it, soon discover the
anointing on their lives has faded. The Bible says the man or woman who does
not keep their word does not qualify to abide in the Presence of the Almighty.
(Psalm 15:1-5) This is a reference to a loss of the anointing.
of the Gospel must be punctual and start their services on time. To advertise
a 10:30 a.m. meeting and to start at 10:44 is not keeping one's word. I
have known many Pastors who have lost many people because they do not start
their services at the exact time promised. The Preacher who does not
start his services on time is saying to the people, "You cannot count on
me to keep my word."
you have completed preaching your sermon, immediately take a drink of water if
possible, use a handkerchief to clean the corners of your mouth and place a
breath mint in your mouth. There's nothing as disappointing as a
Preacher who opens his mouth and preaches a sermon directly from Heaven, only
to begin praying for individuals who discover his breath is from ...
over twenty-five years I have made a practice of sitting down with my Bible
and my sermon outline for two to three hours of meditation before a
service. I never try to memorize my outline, but I do like to
familiarize myself with its contents. I also like to read my Scripture
verses over and over.
have always made it a practice to never bind the Holy Spirit to my
outline. I always take it into the pulpit with me, but I stay open to
how, and even if, He wants me to deliver it.
preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the most important, and the
most privileged, job on Earth.
closing I would like to share the following. From time to time as the Holy
Spirit leads me, I like to fast for two or three days to keep that
anointed edge. Normally during that period I will not eat breakfast or
lunch, but I will eat dinner over that two to three day period.
Occasionally as the Holy Spirit leads, I will exclude dinner as well.
Sometimes I do have more extended periods of fasting as the Holy Spirit
I have found that the two to three day period is very effective for me.
Also, I always break my fast at least one day before I am going to
preach. I have found that it is not helpful to go into the pulpit
fasting. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as to what is best for you when it
comes to fasting.
is the link to the prayers I always pray immediately before preaching.
New Testament Prayers for Holy Spirit Utterance."
time is never wasted time." Dr. Kenneth E. Hagin
is always the result of following the leading of the Holy Spirit." Dr.
Kenneth E. Hagin
the tuition-free JHM Online Bible Training Centre for hundreds of preaching and teaching
ideas and outlines.
Be Blessed ... John and Barbara Hamel
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