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One More Way to Outline a Sermon

Sermon PreparationAdrian Rogers outlined sermons using four phrases:

  • Hey You! (Get the audience’s attention)
  • Look! (Examine the Scriptures)
  • See! (Explain the passage)
  • Do! (Make application)

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

  • Me (How do I struggle with this?)
  • We (How do we all struggle with this?)
  • God (What does the Bible say about this?)
  • You (What should you do about this?)
  • 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:

  • Hook (Get attention)
  • Book (Examine the Word)
  • Look (Expound the passage)
  • 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..


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!”


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.


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 right now.

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  1. Joe Rhoads says:

    If you look closely, all four examples are basically the same, but whatever terminology a pastor uses to help him frame the sermon, go for it. Some are harder for me to remember, some are easier. Some them help tremendously, some not so. Thanks for the examples, especially of Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley. Next time I listen to either one of them, I’m going to have these outlines in hand to follow. Can always learn more, better. Been preaching for 10 years now (not that long to some pastors out there) and I still feel like a toddler trying to learn how to walk. Maybe in some respects, that’s not a bad thing.

    • You’re right, Joe. It’s never a bad thing to keep learning. I recently changed my approach to preaching after 15 years of doing it in essentially one way. You can teach an old preacher new tricks. :)

  2. Greg Doebler says:

    I had a seminary professor that put it this way – start where they are – build a bridge to the Word – then answer the question everyone is asking – “what’s in it for me?” Basically the same as the others. I’ve been preaching for over 30 years…the main point of all of these show them how God’s word relates to their life now and show them where God wants to take them. Thanks for the article

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