The preacher’s outline is a representation of his thought structure. It is the skeleton on which the flesh of the preaching content lives. The main chunks, or movements, in a message are often referred to as the “points” of the sermon. Assuming you write an outline, here are a few pointers that may help your points:
1. Write each point as a complete sentence. It is tempting to write a title describing the content of the section of text, just as a commentary might. Often such titles are not full sentences. Each main point in a sermon is an idea in its own right (a sub-idea in relation to the main idea, if you will), so it should be a complete sentence – not incomplete or vague. Writing a sermon and writing a commentary are different tasks.
2. Write each point applicationally. This means a declarative statement, rather than a question or functional description (like a commentary). By forcing yourself to write the point as a complete sentence that is targeted at the lives of your listeners, you are maintaining the connection between text and audience throughout the message. In many sermons there is no advantage in saving the application just for the end. Stronger connection equals stronger message.
3. Write each point to support the main idea. Each point in a message is a complete idea, but it is not a stand-alone idea. It’s role is to support the main idea of the message.
4. Remember that the outline is for you. The outline is for you, not for them, so think carefully before making your points show. Full and applicational sentences communicate well, but incomplete and vague thoughts, if stated, make the skeleton stick out. Fashions may change, but bony is not attractive.
5. Remember the importance of transitions. Since they are hearing, rather than reading the message, you must give real attention to the transitions that move the message between points.