Using Used Outlines

Earlier this week Tom wrote:

Good morning! I just found your blog and read the post on stage 1. It looks like you are addressing preachers who are full time. I am a “part-time” pastor-I have to work another job to make ends meet. Do you have any advice for someone like me? So far (I have only been at this for 3 years), I rely heavily on outlines someone has already done. I would like to get away from this, but do not feel I have the luxury as yet to do this.

I understand the pressures of preaching while holding down other full-time employment (plus the pressures of marriage, parenting, crisis management, etc.)  I suppose that using outlines from others does give a pretty significant boost toward being ready to preach.  But the challenge with this is whether you are really ready to preach if you haven’t wrestled with the text yourself.  It does seem to undermine the whole notion of the truth of God’s Word coming through a personality that has been marked by it first.

Rather than just making pressured preachers feel bad, I would offer the following suggestions:

1. Try to wean yourself off using the outlines of other preachers.  Initially move to seeing them as conversation partners and try to adapt and improve what they offer by making it more your own.

2. Don’t go for overkill on your preaching preparation.  That is, don’t leave “borrowed” outlines in order to try to preach self-studied extended and tricky passages.  Choose easy to preach passages.

3. Don’t bite off too much each time.  Whenever possible, try to preach a shorter passage (still making sure it is a legitimate unit).  Andy Stanley makes the insightful comment that most sermons should really be series.  Why try to cover massive chunks of text if your preparation time is limited.  The same must be said of multiple passages (why preach three passages in a message when you could do better with one?)

I’ll finish the list tomorrow…

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2 thoughts on “Using Used Outlines

  1. Using others outline is not a SIN. Topical preaching is really not my style, where you feel you need an outline. But with expository teaching you don’t need an outline. Just teaching the passage. I have been an bio-vocational preacher/teacher for 40 years. Discipline of time, learning to study, will help you.

  2. Preaching should come from the heart. If you feel you must use an outline, maybe you should wait for inspiration. Also, using modes of persuasion can help a lot (ethos logos pathos).

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