Andy Stanley's book on preaching, Communicating for a Change, is one of my top practical books on preaching. In this book, Stanley shares a great way to structure or "outline" sermons. While there are different ways to shape or form sermons, this is a really good default way to structure a sermon. Ready? Here it is!
Me - I was thinking about this/experienced this delimma the other day . . . (Orientation)
We - We have probably all experienced this before (Identification)
God - So what does God/Scripture say about this (Illumination)
You- What would this look like if we applied this in our lives? (Application)
We - What if everyone did this--our families, our church, this world? (Inspiration)
Stanley, Andy (2008-08-19). Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication (p. 121)
Why is this a good general form? For a lot of reasons. It starts with a life experience that everyone can identify with, which naturally draws people in. It sets the sermon up for dynamic movement from a bit of a conflict to a wrestling with the issue and with God about this, to an inspiring resolution. This makes the sermon memorable, because it is set up like an unfolding story. Also, this structure makes sure that the sermon is set up for application, as the whole structure points towards this.
I like to throw in a, now what about you? at the end of the message a lot of times to make sure that they get the direct call to action. And as long as you have applied it to yourself and everyone else, you can make that kind of direct, second person call at the end (in the form of a question).
What do you think of this sermon structure? What are the pros? Any cons? What other general structures do you like to use for sermons?
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Dr. James Nored (Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a preacher, evangelist, church consultant, writer, and missional leader located in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
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