How to prepare a message to preach
Creating Your Best Sermon
The secret to creating your sermon is a good beginning, a good ending, and delivering the two as close together as possible — it’s humorously said. Of course, every preacher agrees that a great sermon requires a good beginning and ending. But what’s most important is the inspiration, direction, and encouragement offered in the middle.
And that’s precisely why the editors of Sunday Sermons have worked tirelessly for more than a half-century 00 to help pastors everywhere prepare more dynamic, spirit-filled, and powerful messages — from beginning to end– answering their call to masterful preaching.
Add the POWER of illustrations
When creating your sermon, there’s nothing like a well-placed story to help capture wandering minds and bring them back to the major theme of your message—and you’ll find no shortage of these gems in Sunday Sermons. In fact, our editors are renowned for delivering a steady supply of relevant, powerful illustrations—sprinkled with a generous portion of humor in every message. Subscribers have consistently relied on Sunday Sermons to help them add sizzle to their sermons, and they tell us their congregations truly appreciate it! Lectionary-based, Spirit-filled, biblically sound, Sunday Sermons is grounded in Scripture, theologically solid, and for many, life-changing.
A resource for creating your sermon that connects the timeless message of Scripture with today’s people, problems, and pursuits, Sunday Sermons — perhaps more effectively than any other pulpit resource you can use while creating your sermon, inspires, energizes, enriches, and uplifts the preaching ministries of those who turn to this valuable resource, week-after-week.
Remarkably relevant in an age of moral and social chaos, now more than ever, preachers face enormous challenges as they struggle to answer the call to effective preaching. Masterfully, Sunday Sermons will help you mix the vibrant palette of Scripture and storytelling, parables, and timeless Truths as you rise to answer your greatest responsibility to provide the spiritual nourishment your people hunger for.
For creating your sermon, resources include full-text sermons for every Sunday, children’s messages, and sermons for other important days in the church calendar.
Sermons can be classified into several general types, including textual, topical, textual-topical, expository, pastoral, and narrative. However, it is worth noting that these labels may not always have distinct boundaries, as there is often overlap between the different styles. Here is a brief description of each type:
Textual sermons focus primarily on a specific biblical passage, exploring its meaning, context, and application. The main emphasis is on understanding and expounding upon the selected text.
Topical sermons address specific subjects or themes relevant to the congregation or current societal issues. The preacher may draw upon various biblical passages to provide guidance and insight on the chosen topic.
This type combines elements of both textual and topical sermons. The preacher selects a specific passage as the primary foundation but also incorporates related topics or themes to provide a broader perspective.
Expository sermons involve a systematic and comprehensive study of a particular book or section of the Bible. The preacher aims to unfold the meaning, context, and teachings of the chosen portion, often moving sequentially through the text.
Pastoral sermons focus on the needs, challenges, and spiritual growth of the congregation. The preacher provides encouragement, guidance, and practical insights to help address specific issues individuals may be facing.
Narrative sermons emphasize storytelling and the use of narratives, anecdotes, or personal experiences to convey spiritual truths and engage the listeners. The preacher aims to captivate the audience through compelling narratives.
It’s important to recognize that these categories serve as general guidelines, and sermons often incorporate elements from multiple styles to create a unique and effective message.
Many pastors employ a variety of sermon styles, including topical, textual, and expository messages. Topical messages provide a platform to address contemporary societal issues or matters relevant to the church community. On the other hand, textual and expository messages delve into the broader context of entire books in the Bible. In creating your sermon, both approaches play a vital role in nurturing well-rounded growth in the Christian life. While sermon organization is significant, it takes a backseat to the importance of establishing a biblical foundation and ensuring practical applicability. A topical message can be just as rooted in scripture as an expository one and an expository message can be just as captivating as a topical one.
Ultimately, regardless of the type of sermon, its true effectiveness lies in its firm grounding in Scripture and its ability to apply to life through powerful and relevant illustrations. The ultimate aim is to draw people into a closer relationship with Christ.
What Makes a Great Sermon?
There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to creating your sermon. Preachers differ from one another in talent, style, and many other ways. So too, do the members of their congregations. And all come together to participate in the worship experience in their uniqueness. Different attitudes, different expectations, different degrees of interest, intensity, and enthusiasm. Different distractions. Moreover, these differences are subject to constant change — from moment to moment, from day to day, from week to week. Consequently, from Sunday to Sunday, there is in every church a new and different congregation, as well as a new and different preacher.
From week to week, for better or for worse, there is change. Nothing remains the same except the immutable Word of God, which comes into our midst. And from week to week, both the changing preacher and the changing congregation move in one of two directions — for better or for worse, depending on the state of their love affair with the Word that dwells among them.
“There is no changing the word of God,” wrote the apostle Paul. The Word of God is unchained: it issues commands; it predicts events; it consoles and reprimands; it stems off evil; it inspires; it blesses. In short, it makes things happen.
The Word of God is a creative force. It gives us life. And from moment to moment and week to week, it shows us the way to New Life.
From moment to moment and week to week, the question arises: are we ready to receive this message of new life that comes from God? Are we willing to position ourselves before God in a way that acknowledges our total dependence on Him — not only for life but for the way of life? Are we ready and willing to reverse our values and reorder our priorities to harmonize our life with the Will of God, who became one of us to show us how much he loves us?
God loves you. You have His Word for it. And he is waiting for you to respond lovingly to this healing message. That is the Word of God. You can proclaim it in a thousand different ways. But whether your sermon outlines evoke tears or generate laughter, the message remains the same. In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word is immutable, and the Word is now, and the Word is Love.
How To Use the Sermon Outlines on this Website
Consider any of the sermons and full-text sermons on this site as a resource for creating your sermon. Read the Sunday Sermon outline as it is presented on this site and consult other materials, such as our extensive collection of almost 20,000 sermon illustrations.
It is suggested that you adapt the general structure and approach of the sermon and prepare your version as a detailed sermon outline or full-text message. Consider using two or more sermons on related topics to construct your sermon outline or adapt material from more than one sermon using our topical or scripture index.
Whenever possible, express the thoughts of the sermon outline in your own words. Add illustrations and sprinkle references based on your own experience and the needs of your people.
Above all, never forget that delivering the Word of God to your people is found not in your eloquence but in the hearing of God’s Word. The fundamental difference between a speech and a sermon is that a sermon evolves from the preacher’s encounter with the Word.
Creating your sermon for the first time
Elements of the sermon should often include exposition, exhortation, and practical application. Keep these elements top of mind as you create an outline of your message. Think of the outline as the bones of the sermon. The outline sets forth the texture of the sermon and helps to move from one thought to the next. In an extensive study of preaching, one recurring complaint from the congregation is that sermons are too complicated. The sermon outline is where you address that complaint.
Start with a strong introduction. The most effective preachers understand the importance of a strong introduction. This is where you grab the listener into the theme of your text.
Introduce the Sermon text
Tell your people what you are going to cover and why it’s essential or how it is relevant. You may include an illustration or humorous story about what it does or does not mean. Use a starting point related to scripture or an event that propels the main idea.
Teach the Scripture
Explain the Scripture in ways the congregation can relate to. give examples from Scripture. Provide practical application of the Scripture to everyday life. Use powerful, relevant sermon illustrations, including humor, where appropriate.
Conclude your Sermon
Finish each message with a strong call to action (exhortation) that relates to the Scripture and topic. This is the invitation to the people to carry forth the message in the sermon and apply it to their everyday lives.
Preaching to Your Disciples
A preacher was asked by his bishop to deliver a sermon in a huge cathedral. Long before the sermon was to begin, more than three thousand persons had filled the cathedral to capacity. Loudspeakers were hooked up so that the sermon could be heard by thousands more standing outside. “Just look at that crowd,” said the bishop to the preacher. “How many disciples would you say are out there?” “Three or four, perhaps,” the preacher replied.
How many disciples would you say are in your congregation each week? How do we distinguish between routine “Churchgoers” and Christian disciples? Who among them attends for some vague reason, such as “It’s the thing that’s expected of me once a week”? And who among them is seeking further direction on how to follow Christ more closely, more sincerely — how to love Him more dearly? Who can say? Such judgments are not for us to make — with one all-important exception. Each of us can pass judgment in this regard on ourselves: “What am I doing here?”
Are you a Realist, or Idealist?
A well-known Christian preacher once met a Russian actress. “I suppose you are a religious man?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied, “I suppose I am.” “Aha!” said the actress, “you are religious because you are weak. You want someone to hold your hand. You want God to hold your hand.”
The clergyman told the woman that she had it all wrong. And he gave her some well-used examples. He doesn’t ask God to wipe the tears from his eyes. He wants God to give him a handkerchief so he can wipe the tears from other people’s eyes. He doesn’t ask God to hold his hand. He asks God to give him strong arms with which to reach down and lift up the fallen and the outcast.
“Then you are an idealist?” asked the actress. “I suppose I am,” said the preacher. Whereupon, the actress waved him away, saying, “I am a realist.”
“That got me thinking,” the preacher said later. “Am I a realist or just an idealist? Is Christianity just a beautiful idea, or is it real? Does it work?”
Does it work? Each of us needs to decide for ourselves.
Trust in the Lord
One Saturday night, a newly-ordained priest received a last-minute assignment from his bishop to deliver the Sunday sermon at the bishop’s Cathedral Church. “But how can I do this?” he asked the bishop. “I’ve never before preached to a large congregation such as yours, and I have nothing prepared!” To which the bishop replied, “Trust the Lord, young man. Just trust the Lord.” Later that night, the young preacher leafed through the bishop’s Bible, searching for inspiration …
He came upon some type-written sermon notes the bishop had tucked into the Bible. After reading them over, he liked them so much that he decided to take them to the pulpit the next morning. And, with the bishop’s notes before him, the young man very much pleased the congregation as he delivered a sermon packed with wisdom beyond his years. Later, as the congregation filed out of the Cathedral, many stopped to congratulate him for his excellent preaching. Then the bishop himself came through the crowd. “Young man,” he said, “in creating your sermon you preached the message I was going to deliver tonight. Now what shall I do?” “Trust the Lord, bishop,” said the young man. “Just trust the Lord!”
To all who labor in this humbling challenge of preaching, it is our sincere hope that the sermon outlines will be a valuable addition to your preaching ministry and a reliable resource for creating your sermon.