Follow Your Sermon Outline

I was critiquing a sermon for a client the other day who demonstrated a very common and real problem in his sermon construction. The preacher told me that he just couldn’t get his mind around how to tighten the sermon up. He had worked on the sermon for a while and was not moving it forward to completion.

One of the first things I recognized while reading his sermon is that the introduction was far removed from the sermon itself. The introduction spoke about four characteristics of X (topic hidden to protect the client’s unpreached sermon). This seemed to be a natural outline to follow. However, then the sermon veered into parts that had limited relevance to the topic. Then the preacher brought in the cross before coming back to another characteristic of the topic X that he had not even spoken of before. Certainly inductive sermons are ordered differently than deductive sermons, but this sermon felt like a deductive sermon.

So this sermon introduced a number of characteristics in the introduction. Then it started to veer into unrelated topics. We have spoken at length about that problem and will not address it here, but remember to ruthlessly cut out irrelevant points. After that he had another major point related to the points introduced in the subject. No wonder it was hard to bring that sermon together.

I suggested that the preacher cut out the irrelevant points and use his own sermon outline that his introduction implied. This gives an important thought. If you are having problems with your sermon, ask yourself, what what is God trying to say through me in this sermon? Your main points will fall out of that. Then follow that outline.



Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in Preaching, Sermon Construction
One comment on “Follow Your Sermon Outline
  1. Vernetia Miller says:

    I once read about a filmmaker who used a certain shot ploy because he liked it. The shot ploy did nothing to move the story forward and, to the contrary, it was made the viewer wonder what they had experienced as opposed to keeping theior focus on the story being presented. The smae with sermon planning. Since SYS 2.0 I have learned to cut out the parts that don’t work in the present sermon, but consider whether they can be used as a separate sermon. Many times they can. Just because I like it doesn’t mean that it belongs.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
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