My new booklet is entitled “Ten Specific Steps You Can Take To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!” and I will be giving it away in the next few weeks after I have finalized it.
It will be a pdf or ebook that you can download and share with your pastor or preacher. Chapter one was entitled “Step One: Do the Work!” Here’s the second chapter.
STEP TWO: Develop a Clear Outline!
Most sermons we preach should have a strong outline so the congregation can follow the progression of the passage. Outlining takes some practice, but there is a real joy in seeing the congregation anticipating your next point because your outline is easy to follow.
One of the many mistakes I have made in preaching is failing to have a KEYWORD for my sermon. A keyword is a word you use in each of the major steps in your outline as you announce your next point. For example, a word like “thing” should almost never be used by a preacher: “The next THING we notice here in Luke 12 about worry is . . .” If the message is on the sin of worry, a far better keyword would be something like “aspect” or “failure” or “mistake.”
If I were going to preach on Luke 12:22-31, I would probably use the term “waste.” Here’s the passage:
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
I might say, “The first WASTE of worry is that it causes us to devalue our lives (vv. 22-24).” “The second WASTE of worry is that it is unproductive (vv. 25-26).” “The third WASTE of worry is that it causes us to forget God’s care for us (vv. 27-28).” “The fourth WASTE of worry is that it can make us look like pagans (vv. 29-30).” “The fifth WASTE of worry is that it is a barrier to our seeking God’s kingdom (v. 31).”
Of course I would want to elaborate on (and illustrate) each of those points, but you see the value of a well-chosen keyword? Apart from the separate points, you are making an overall statement that worry is a WASTE!
If you have studied your text sufficiently, sometimes a keyword will jump out at you. But please don’t use the word “thing.” Ever again. Promise?