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The Sermon Outline | Season 2, Episode 2

Chapter Markers

0:38 Subscribe & Review
1:12 What is a sermon outline and why is it important?
3:22 Is the Holy Spirit an outline?
5:00 Harness your natural rhythm
9:20 Inductive and deductive preaching
13:20 6 sermon outlines
13:38 Traditional 3-point sermon template
14:40 Me-We-God-You-Me sermon template
16:18 Verse-by-Verse Running Commentary
17:08 The Defender’s Outline
18:24 The Children’s Leader template
19:19 The Youth Pastor template
19:44 Using sermon outlines in Sermonary

Resources Mentioned

Free Sermon Templates
Effortless by Gregory McKeown

Full Transcript

Wade Bearden (00:00):

Welcome to episode 78 of Hello Church!. This is the second episode in season two. We’re talking all this season about writing and delivering great sermons. I’m Wade Bearden…

Justin Trapp (00:14):

And I’m Justin Trapp. And today, we’re going to be talking about how to outline your sermon.

Wade Bearden (00:20):


Justin Trapp (00:20):

And there are many different ways to do this.

Wade Bearden (00:22):

Yeah, no one right way. But maybe there’s a right way for you. So we’re going to be talking about that here in a moment. First, though…

Justin Trapp (00:30):


Wade Bearden (00:30):

First thing… First step of writing a good sermon outline…

Justin Trapp (00:33):

…is reviewing us on Spotify.

Wade Bearden (00:35):

That’s what it is. Review us on Spotify or Apple iTunes. You can also subscribe. So make sure to do that. We’ve got great stuff coming this season. If you missed last week, if you didn’t have a chance to listen to it, we talked about the big idea of the sermon. So that was great, very foundational. Now we’re moving on to outlining your message. So check that out. You don’t have to listen to that first, so you can listen to this now, but make sure you go back if you haven’t had a chance to check it out.

Justin Trapp (01:00):

Wade, so let’s talk ab… a moment about the importance of writ… having an outline for your message. Why is it important?

Wade Bearden (01:08):

Yeah. Well, first, what is an outline? It’s just a way to organize your sermon. You could do three points. You could do four points. You could organize it according to the problem that you’re addressing. But just having sort of formula to walk through the text and to communicate the text properly in a way your people can understand. You want your people to leave and say, oh, wow. I understood what that Bible passage was teaching, and I understand how it applies to my life today.

Wade Bearden (01:42):

So a good outline is going to help your sermon make sense logically. There’s this great graphic that I saw, I think it’s on the cover of a book, but it’s about thinking and communicating. And it has two points point A and point B. And for the life of me, I can’t remember what book this is, but you’ve got one side, it’s this line, and it’s just kind of going like this, this, this, this, and then it gets to point B. On the other side, A to B, boom. I think sometimes what happens in our messages is we start out on A, and because we don’t have an outline, we are all over the place.

Justin Trapp (02:17):

All roads lead back to David and Goliath.

Wade Bearden (02:19):

I mean, all… We’re just like, hey, remember David? And people who are new to church are like, no. You’re like, hey, remember the story of Matthew Levi? And you’re like, Matthew Levi? Are those a pair of jeans? I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

Justin Trapp (02:33):

One time I did a… I was in creative media, and I was running, creating a slide deck for the speaker that was coming into our denominational conference. And I kid you not, it was the most slides I’ve ever done for any presentation of the gospel ever, and he had over 30 scriptures that he referenced.

Wade Bearden (02:54):


Justin Trapp (02:55):

Now, it was impressive. He knew God’s word like crazy, right?

Wade Bearden (02:58):


Justin Trapp (02:58):

He could just spout out scriptures like crazy, but it was really, really hard to follow because he referenced, again, over 30 independent scriptures from all over the Bible, and it just… It was like you were describing, that the sort of point A to point B was this jumbled mess.

Wade Bearden (03:13):


Justin Trapp (03:13):

I have a question.

Wade Bearden (03:14):


Justin Trapp (03:15):

This is sort of a hot button question. This is not even in the notes. I was saving this one for you. Is the Holy Spirit in the outline.

Wade Bearden (03:22):

The Holy Spirit inspired scripture, right?

Justin Trapp (03:25):


Wade Bearden (03:26):

Scripture is inspired by God. The Holy Spirit works with us. But just like in the sanctification process, the Holy Spirit saves us and rejuvenates us and recreates us. But when it comes to sanctification, the Holy Spirit combines with our work to help change our behavior. We have this choice, and we’ve got to work towards that, and the Holy Spirit is empowering that. So I like to think it’s the same when you’re preaching too. The Holy Spirit is working through you, and you need to be open to that, but that’s not an excuse to be lazy.

Justin Trapp (03:57):


Wade Bearden (03:57):

If you’re just like, oh, I’m just going to go up on stage with no outline and… The Holy Spirit is trying to work through you during the week, and you’re just like, no, no, no, you can only work through me during the last minute. And so yeah… That’s a good question, and-

Justin Trapp (04:14):

Well, and the reason why I say that is we get ad comments all the time on Facebook or on social media where it’s like, “Sermon outline? Well, that’s preposterous. I got the Holy Ghost.

Wade Bearden (04:23):


Justin Trapp (04:24):

And that’s all I need.

Wade Bearden (04:25):

Man… The word of God is so amazing and beautiful and wild and important, and sometimes when we communicate it, we strip all that away.

Justin Trapp (04:36):


Wade Bearden (04:37):

And we make it overly confusing, and people walk away and they say, I don’t know what that passage means. And it’s because we didn’t do the work to communicate that. So, that’s important. And then also another reason why it’s important to have a sermon outline is to really harness the natural rhythm of your sermon and even the Bible passage. If you look at good speeches, if you look at good movies, books, concerts, there’s this natural sort of rhythm. We might have a high moment and then drop down and then a high moment and drop down until we get to that big conclusion.

Wade Bearden (05:22):

And if you have a good outline, you are helping to capture and channel the attention of your audience. And that’s through reading through the scripture, that’s using illustrations and using applications. And so just like you don’t want to yell the whole time, because if you yell about everything in your message, nothing’s important. You don’t want to whisper the whole time. You like to have that balance of emphasizing a point and then kind of dropping back down. I think if you use an outline well, you’ll do that in your message.

Justin Trapp (05:58):

Movies do that. I mean, you don’t… An entire movie isn’t made up of the final sequence, right?

Wade Bearden (06:04):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Justin Trapp (06:04):

If all movies, they took the final sequence and they made that energy and that intensity, right, the entire movie, we would just get numb to it after a certain while. It’s just chaos. It’s just noise.

Wade Bearden (06:16):


Justin Trapp (06:16):

Like you mentioned, concerts do the same thing. So in high school, I recorded an album.

Wade Bearden (06:21):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Justin Trapp (06:22):

Not a well-known fact.

Wade Bearden (06:25):

Is it a well-known album?

Justin Trapp (06:26):

Well, not really. It is well-known to one of my good friends who… I made the album when we had CDs, and the CD got stuck in his truck, and it would not come out of his CD player. So he said, every time he turn on his truck, my album would come on, and he’d have to change it.

Wade Bearden (06:44):

Somebody somewhere still has that truck, and they’re just like, I don’t know who this guy is-

Justin Trapp (06:48):

Yeah, I don’t know who this kid is.

Wade Bearden (06:49):

… but he haunts my dreams.

Justin Trapp (06:50):

There is. So when I was working on my album and I was singing a lot, I was traveling a lot, doing different concerts at different youth groups, we’d lead worship at youth camps, I had gotten this VHS series from the songwriting mentor of mine, Joey Garza, who I love. Joey, if you’re ever watching this, I love you. And he gave me this VHS training series. And I believe the guy’s name was like Tom Jackson or Phil Jackson. And basically, this guy was like the consultant to all the big bands at the time, Jars of Clay, Audio Adrenaline, Rebecca St. James. And what he would do… Man, this is some heavy hitters, right?

Wade Bearden (07:28):

There are some heavy hitters. I got chills right now, goosebumps.

Justin Trapp (07:32):


Wade Bearden (07:32):

You can’t see, I’ve got my hoodie on.

Justin Trapp (07:34):

So what he would do is he would work with him on crafting an experience, a rhythm, so to speak, in their concerts. And so he would say, hey, you needed to classify every one of your songs by a number, one to five. One is being just an intimate, a soft, a… just a real… a low key song. And then five is just all energy, intensity. And then what you want to do is you want to craft a concert that sort of works through these songs in a way that’s complimentary, that keeps the audience in focus, energized, engaged. And so the same is true with your sermon, right?

Justin Trapp (08:15):

You’re sitting here… You’re standing in a room, communicating the gospel for 45 minutes to a room full of people. It’s a lot of content to go through. An outline really will help you maneuver through that content in a way that is engaging and compelling, and so at the end of that 45 minutes, they are taking away your application points, they are taking away maybe a story you shared, but there are moments, like you mentioned, there are moments within the sermon that help make it more memorable.

Wade Bearden (08:47):

Yeah. And too, if you’re working through maybe even some of Paul’s works or even Jesus’s words or parables, sometimes you’ve got to emphasize one point so that you can emphasize a second point. You’ve got to emphasize the brokenness of humanity in order to emphasize why we need Jesus. So having an outline will help you kind of build up what the text is trying to say. And-

Justin Trapp (09:20):

Can we talk a minute about the difference between inductive and deductive preaching?

Wade Bearden (09:24):

Yeah. So inductive and deductive is a way, a general idea, and it flows into your outline, because it determines how you communicate that sermon, that text. So a deductive sermon is basically where you come out and you say, “Hey, here’s the big idea. Here’s what the text is teaching. Here’s this principle I want you to understand.” And then the rest of the message can either or show how that’s true from scripture or say now that that’s true, here’s some points that automatically follow from that. And so it depends on your audience. Maybe you come up and you say… If you have an audience full of Christians, you might say, “Hey, is God really loving? We’ll find out.”

Wade Bearden (10:21):

You probably don’t want to do that because your audience is like, yeah, we know God is love. Maybe you could say, “Hey, God is love. Here’s how that’s going to change your life.” But if you’re with people who are maybe new to Christianity or not Christians, you might come up and you do an inductive message. And an inductive message says, “Hey, here’s a problem, here’s an issue, and let’s go to scripture and figure out the answer.” So you might come, you might say, “Hey, maybe you feel absolutely alone in life. You feel like nobody’s looking out for you.” And you work through how God is a God of love, and that comes to fruition at the end of your message.

Justin Trapp (10:59):

I feel like when I listen to Andy Stanley messages, I feel like he utilizes inductive preaching a lot.

Wade Bearden (11:04):

Yeah. Yeah.

Justin Trapp (11:05):

There was… One of the great deductive preachers that I grew up under, his name was Howard Burrows, and he was just a master at this, right? He would sort of come out with his main point and his main thesis of the message, and then he would start going through the message. And you would begin to think, well, maybe he got lost.

Wade Bearden (11:24):


Justin Trapp (11:25):

And at the end of his message, he would sort of bring it all full circle. Everything was sort of pulled together at the end, and you’re like, man, you sly dog. You had us the whole time, right?

Wade Bearden (11:35):

Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s cool.

Justin Trapp (11:35):

He was a great deductive communicator, and I think Andy Stanley, he utilizes inductive preaching a lot.

Wade Bearden (11:42):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Justin Trapp (11:42):

In fact, you see it… And we’ll talk about here in a second, the different outlines you can use. Andy Stanley’s outline, I think, is a great example of inductive format.

Wade Bearden (11:51):

No, and that makes complete sense, and it’s very true when you listen to his messages. So there are a number of different principles that we’ve kind of talked about. The last one, before we dig into specific sermon outlines, is this, your outline should probably change based on the scripture text. When you read it, what’s the best way to communicate it?

Justin Trapp (12:11):


Wade Bearden (12:12):

So sometimes when I’m working through some dense material from Romans, I might do like a three-point message because it helps me to kind of break down what Paul is saying and say, hey, here’s point number one, here’s the second point that follows, here’s the third point. And by the end, there’s like, oh, okay, we’ve built something here. We understand this. But a lot of times when I’m preaching through a story, I’ll use something like Andy Stanley’s method where it’s like, here’s this one big idea, and we’re just focusing on that. There are no subpoints here.

Wade Bearden (12:45):

So just read the text, study the text, figure out what works best for you. And I know a lot of people too, will create their own template. And that’s why we have Sermonary. So if you haven’t tried out Sermonary, it’s our cloud-based sermon-writing platform. We give you some outlines, we’re going to share those outlines that we give you here in a moment, and we give you an opportunity to create your own outline. So that’s really great. So we’ve got six very common sermon outlines or sermon templates. We’re going to walk through those.

Justin Trapp (13:18):

And if you want to follow along, and I should say, we should give them the URL.

Wade Bearden (13:21):

Oh, yes.

Justin Trapp (13:21):

If you want to follow along while we’re going through these templates, you can go to freesermontemplates.com, and we have all that laid out for you, and you can follow along as we’re going through them.

Wade Bearden (13:30):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. So if you don’t have an opportunity to write this down, so it’s freesermontemplates.com, real easy to know. That’ll be in the show notes too. So the first one is… I kind of alluded to this, but it’s a traditional, three-point sermon template. You could even say a traditional two to four-point sermon template. You probably don’t want to go over four points because then you kind of have a sermon series. But essentially, it’s a begin with the introduction. You’ve got point number one, you’ve got the explanation of that point, you’re explaining the scripture, illustrating that scripture section, and then you’re providing application. Then you go to point number two, explain that section of scripture. You work through it two to four points, and then you end with a conclusion. This is kind of like a tried-and-true method, and I think it works really well when you’re just digging into some dense material. But it’s tried-and-true for a reason.

Justin Trapp (14:26):

I tried using the three-point, traditional method. I preached it for a long time at the beginning of my ministry, time there. And it worked okay for me. When I came across Amy Stanley’s method, his ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE, I just felt at home, so to speak, with that format. I tend to share lots of stories, so it was sort of conducive for me. It was a growth opportunity for me on the three-point, but I felt like naturally, with my style of communication, I fit better with the ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE. And ultimately… Like we have six of these. One of these may work really well for your style, the way that you communicate, or maybe you need to create your own. But let me just share a little bit about Andy Stanley. So Andy Stanley starts with me, and he asks… He sort of shares like a personal story or he shares something that we’ve all-

Wade Bearden (15:20):

And he wrestles… He wrestles with.

Justin Trapp (15:21):

He… Yeah, that he wrestles with or that you have wrestled with, right? And then he says… he transitions to we. Haven’t we all experienced this? Or what does this look like for all of us as a society, as a church, as a community? And then he transitions to God. What does God’s words say about this particular issue that he’s worked to build tension up for? Again, it goes back to inductive preaching. And then it goes to you. What does this look like for you? What does this mean for you? What is the application for you? And then at the end, he sort of uses the statement, what would it look like if we all… and then you fill in the blanks. What would it… What would our church look like if we all would do X, Y, Z. And so that’s the Andy Stanley ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE. If you want to read about this format, it’s in his book Communicating for Change.

Wade Bearden (16:12):

Communicating for a Change, yeah. Yeah.

Justin Trapp (16:14):

Yeah, Communicating for a Change, a great book on preaching.

Wade Bearden (16:16):

Oh, Yeah. Yeah. The next one, the third one, is a verse-by-verse running commentary. So if you say, yeah, I want to work through big passages of scripture and just kind of, verse by verse, go through that, you’re going to take the first chunk of verses and you’re going to walk through what that means, explain that, you’ll illustrate that. You go to the next chunk of verses, then the last chunk of verses, depending on how many chunks you see in that text, and then you’re going to end with application and conclusion. So you’re going to walk through all this scripture, you’re going to help people to understand it, and then you’re going to say, okay, we’ve looked at this passage. Now, here’s what it means, and then you wrap it all up. So that’s something that I’ve seen become more popular, a template I’ve seen become more popular over the years as people, rightly so, are starting to dig… especially in certain traditions, dig into the Bible a little bit more.

Justin Trapp (17:07):

Yeah. The next one is our defenders outline, and this is really in apologetics outline.

Wade Bearden (17:14):

This is one we actually created ourselves. And basically, you are defending a biblical truth and… Maybe the resurrection of Jesus. And so you would open up with, “Hey, here’s an issue, here’s a topic. Here’s what the Bible teaches.” And then the next section you would consider objections. Here is what this author, here’s what this philosopher, here’s what this professor, here’s what this book…

Justin Trapp (17:41):

Here’s what Wikipedia said.

Wade Bearden (17:44):

… here’s how they object to that. And here are their reasonings. And you want to be very honest about that. So instead of using this sort of scarecrow argument, you say, “Hey, here, here are the strongest objections.”

Justin Trapp (17:59):

I think Timothy Keller is really great at this.

Wade Bearden (18:02):

Yeah. He does this to sermons, but also talks as well. And you say, okay, here are the strongest objections from the most reasonable people. And then you answer those objections and you pull in the work of… you pull in the Bible, as well as the work of other individuals who’ve addressed this. So that’s a really cool one. We also have down the children’s leader, and this is one we also created with the help of some children’s pastors. I won’t go through it specifically, but it’s not just for a sermon, it’s for a whole service.

Justin Trapp (18:39):


Wade Bearden (18:39):

So it includes a game. It includes the Bible verse that you have the children memorize. It includes small groups. Because when you’re teaching children, everything has to really push towards that big idea, whether it’s a skit or puppets [crosstalk 00:18:59]

Justin Trapp (18:58):

And we should say, kids lessons shouldn’t be 45 minutes, right?

Wade Bearden (19:03):

Yes, right. Right. And so this is really cool. If you’re a children’s pastor, you know a children’s pastor, download this and share it with them. And it’s basically, here’s how you flow with your service so that, by the end, everything’s about it. The game is about this big idea It’s great. Same thing with the youth pastor. The youth pastor, it’s not an entire service, but it really focuses on what God’s word says and then also provides time for response at the end. So those are going to be really help for you, whether you’re a children’s pastor or a youth pastor.

Justin Trapp (19:33):

The great thing is you can go to freesermontemplates.com, you can take a look at, at all of these in their entirety. But you can also utilize these in Sermonary. Sermonary is our sermon writing app. We mentioned it earlier. And when you go to a start a new sermon, it’ll ask you, Hey, do you want to start from scratch? Or do you want to use a prebuilt, existing outline? And that outline does provide you some structures, some foundational support there, and then you can go in and add in your own content within that format and in that outline. And so Sermonary is free. You can sign up for a free trial. We believe it’s going to be really helpful for your sermon preparation process as you’re writing your sermons.

Justin Trapp (20:14):

I like to describe it as we’ve used Word for so long, and so everyone just writes north to south on the page in a linear format. And if you’re adding just tons and tons of content, especially if you’re working through some dense material, it just gets really hard to copy and paste and to maneuver all the content around. Sermonary, though, is the complete opposite of that. Sermonary is smooth. Sermonary is agile. You can drag and drop things with ease. You can move things around so easily. And again, you can utilize one of these templates. And one of my favorite things about Sermonary too, is you can actually create your own. Just say, you know what?

Wade Bearden (20:50):


Justin Trapp (20:50):

I’ve taken kind of Andy Stanley’s, and I’ve kind of merged it a little bit with the traditional sermon point method. I’ve sort of done a little mashup here, and I really like the way that it’s laid out. You can actually say that as a template so that when you start every message, every week, you can begin using that structure, and you don’t have to recreate that structure every single week. So the goal of Sermonary is really to help you write your sermons faster, and not just every sermon, but the whole sermon preparation process, for that process to be more efficient for you, but then when you’re actually delivering sermon, we have something called podium mode that is just a wonderful experience.

Wade Bearden (21:31):

Yeah, it’s amazing.

Justin Trapp (21:31):

And it has a timer at the top or a count… a clock or a countdown timer, whatever you prefer. And it’s just a wonderful experience for utilizing all the content you’ve prepared and presenting it in a way that helps you view that and skim through that quickly as you’re presenting the Gospel. So check out sermonary.com. You can sign up for a free trial. It’s going to be amazing. And 2.0.

Wade Bearden (21:54):

Yeah. Sermonary 2.0 is coming. So… And a great program just got even better. And we talk about Sermonary… I preach from time to time. I’m a teaching pastor at my church, a volunteer teaching pastor. And I have to have Sermonary. The idea if Sermonary was gone, I would be so upset, not just because I helped to found the company, but because I love it so much.

Justin Trapp (22:19):


Wade Bearden (22:19):

So Sermonary 2.0 is coming out. Let’s leave them with a question.

Justin Trapp (22:23):


Wade Bearden (22:24):

What’s your go-to sermon outline? Is it one of the ones we’ve talked about? Is it something else? Or have you created an outline of your own? Make sure to share that. You can do that on Twitter. You can do #hellochurchpod. You can also leave a comment on YouTube in the comment section. I think that’s going to help pastors as they can kind of see what people use and then also see some of your creation. So that’s going to be a lot of fun. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, and on YouTube, and make sure to comment. Really excited about the new season. This is episode two. We’ve got great stuff coming as we really break down the parts of writing and delivering a sermon. So that’s coming up on episode three. Make sure to tune in.