--Ralph Johnson


Sermon definition by Phelps: “an oral address to the popular mind, based on a religious truth as contained in the Scriptures, elaborately treated with a view to persuasion



1.  INTRODUCTION: Tell them what you’re going to tell them

2.  BODY: Tell them what you want them to know or do.

3.  CONCLUSION: Summarize--Tell them what you told them.


A. Introduction

1.      Title

2.      Proposition—Brief statement of aim

3.      Text—Biblical passage to focus the message on God’s word.

4.      Hook—An illustration, statement or other means to catch and focus attention on what is to be presented. (Beware of unrelated jokes, stories etc that distract from the message)

5.      Introductory Explanations

Avoid distracting references to how you feel, why you didn’t get prepared, etc 

(If you don’t tell them how bad your sermon is they may never find it out!)

6.   Prayer (this may be done by someone prior to the message)


B.  Body

Divisions (Like a bridge with supporting piers)

Supporting facts


The body may take various forms. 

It may have a #1, #2, #3, argument style.

It may be a #1, #2, #3 steps in a linear process.

It may be a series of events as in relating a historical narrative.

It may be a #1, #2, #3 parts in outlining a scriptural passage.


C.     Conclusion


Appeal (Convince, Convict, Move to action)

Closing song (Opportunity to step forward to make a commitment)





  1. Choose a topic

This may take some “Pump priming.”  Keep a notebook or list of sermon ideas. 

-A phrase from the Bible.  These can be found on almost every page. As you read the Bible make a list of interesting phrases. (Example: John 3:16 “God Loved so He Gave,” or “The Only Begotten One”)

-A text that catches interest.  “The Star out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17)

-A passage that needs explained “Neither Do I Condemn You” (John 8:11)

-A topic that needs taught  “Known By our Love” (John 13:35); “A Hell of a Place” (Luke 16:23)

-A text that provides an outline such as 1John 2:15-17

Love Not The World

1. Lust of the flesh

2. Lust of the eyes

3. Pride of life

-A need that should be addressed. “If a man won’t work” (2Thes 3:10)

-An idea from something you read or see.  “The Day the Towers Fell” (New York, 9/11)

-An experience you have had “Seven Things my Mother Taught Me” (beware of too much focus on your own experiences.  They are better cited as occasional illustrations)

-Idea from a sermon book.  An outline or sermon title.

-A song “Onward Christian Soldiers” (Eph 6:10-18)

-A poem  “The Touch of The Master’s Hand” (Famous poem about how a violin auctioned for much higher value when played by a master.)

-An idea from a book of illustrations  


B.     Stir your mind with the questions: who?, what?, why?, where?, when?, how?

Who is speaking?  To whom spoken?  Why was it spoken? Where and under what circumstances?  When was it spoken? How should we respond?


C.     Decide on the type of sermon

Topical – Everything is arranged topically with the text only supporting the theme.

Textual – The topic and divisions are drawn from the text but the objective is not so much to explain the text as to present a message supported by the text.

Expository – The topic and divisions come directly from the text and are aimed at making the meaning of the passage clear or applied in practical terms.


D.    Research and collect related materials



Bible dictionaries

Topical Bibles


Illustration books

Books on the subject


(Better too much material and cut some out than too little and exhaust it and the listeners)


  1. Organize

Choose your aim.  What do you wish to accomplish?

Decide on main points

Define your conclusion

Put your gathered information into the proper places in the outline, sorting out unnecessary material

Illustrate your introduction and main points. Don’t just string out a lot of jokes and stories.  Illustrations are windows to throw light on the subject.

Personal illustrations can be useful but beware of getting an “I” infection.


  1. Polish

Write it

Make a working outline for preaching

Get the font size right for easy reading while speaking

Make notations, highlighting

Prepare visuals or Objects supporting the lesson


G.    Practice

Check your time

Practice your delivery.


III. How to preach

Be generally positive and enthusiastic.

Look your audience in the eye and speak to them, not over their heads..

Don’t read your sermon, or, if you do, learn how to read with emphasis.

Be cautious about sarcasm and using the pulpit for personal attacks.  Speak directly to problem situations in private.  Keep the focus on what God says in public. 

Stick close to what the Bible says.  It is more difficult for people to attack God than you, and what God says will more likely work than what you think.

Work on solutions rather than criticism.  “Do you have a solution—or are you part of the problem?

Speak naturally with emphasis on important points or words.

Do not monotone or get into any swinging back and forth, high's and lows.  Vary the pitch

Avoid time fillers, "ah," "and," "you know."

Speak from your diaphragm, not tight or high pitched from the throat.

Provide emphasis with body movements, stepping forward, use of hands and movement of the head.


Be timely and stick to your time. 

Ecc. 3:7 -A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;


Stand up—Speak up—Shut up


"If you don't hit oil in the first 20 minutes, stop boring"


Better they are left wanting more than praying for it to end.




Fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff

And stop me when I’ve said enough.”




James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.


Listen to a multitude of objective and competent counselors.  Remember:

Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Friends are often diplomatic and will not tell you the truth. 

Enemies exaggerate your deficiencies but are often brutally frank


Types of sermons:


--to reason

--to inform

--to arouse

--to convict

--to withstand

--to move to action