Simple Sermon Outlines: Teaching a Concept

The Simple Sermon Outline series is dedicated to quickly describing one structure you might use to preach a sermon.

Our first sermon outlined looked at how to develop a single idea or concept. This week we will look closer at how to teach a more complex idea.

The primary purpose of this sort of sermon is to teach something to your audience. This may be a doctrinal position or a method of discipleship but the primary goal is not to do something but to know something. For this reason, the structure is broken into a few key pieces: Big Picture Idea, Little Pieces, Return to Big Picture, and Conclusion.

Big Picture Idea:

If your primary goal is to teach something you need to begin by developing the big picture of that idea. This might mean placing the concept into context in the larger theological context by which it comes from or developing why this idea matters and what it is. You need to have a succinct version of your concept that can be described in a short few phrases to help bring clarity to your audience. You should develop that short description and introduce it here. You may also want to spend some time connecting the concept to your audience’s context.

Little Pieces:

Having established the broader stroke of your idea you can now take time to look closer at specific ideas that either help to establish the larger idea or bring out implications of, the larger idea. Thinking of these in smaller chunks helps you to focus your thinking. Make sure as you introduce an idea and as you develop it to always come back to the larger idea to make clear the connections between them and to keep the direction of your sermon in your audience’s minds.  Develop as many of these little pieces as you need keeping the length of your sermon in mind. If you find you have too many for one sermon, you may consider developing a series on the subject to focus in closer.

Return to Big Picture:

Having gone on a learning journey and focused on various aspects of your broader concept it is helpful to return to the big picture to both summarize what you have talked about and to draw out the implications of your sermon. This doesn’t have to be extensive, but it is helpful to bring clarity.


Although your sermon has focused on learning something it is still important to end on a note of “so what?” “Why does this matter?” or “what does it look like?” To that end, you should develop some connection between your audience and the conclusion you are offering. Make sure to take some time to consider the practical implications of your ideas and it’s always great to give a tangible goal to both the individual and the community of faith.

This should give you insight into how to write a sermon to teach a concept to your audience.

Next week we will use this outline to develop an example sermon.