Simple Sermon Outline: Teaching a Concept Example Sermon
The Simple Sermon Outline series is dedicated to quickly describing one structure you might use to preach a sermon.
Previously, we explored a sermon outline aimed at helping you teach a concept. Now, we are going to apply that structure and demonstrate how you might write a sermon around this outline.
To this end, we are going to develop a sermon using Ephesians 6:10-20 as a foundation. This is the same passage we used in our last post. I hope that using the same passage will help us to demonstrate the differences in each approach.
A quick word about studying scripture: you should devote time to your passage and doing some, if not a complete, study of your passage. In this context, we are not going to spend a considerable amount of time walking through the text because our goal is to develop a sermon outline using the structure laid out in my previous post. For the purposes of our discussion today we will assume that the passage has been well studied.
With that in mind, I have decided to look at this passage as a description of Christian character. The characteristics of a Christian will be the concept we are teaching.
Introduction: Image of a sturdy bridge. How does it stand? It is engineered and designed to be strong. It is the same with followers of Christ.
Summary of Big Picture: Ephesians 6 teaches us that Christians live by truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, and prayer.
Little Piece 1: Truth (Eph. 6:14)
Little Piece 2: Righteousness (Eph. 6:14)
Little Piece 3: Peace (Eph. 6:15)
Little Piece 4: Faith (Eph. 6:16)
Little Piece 5: Live in Salvation (Eph. 6:17)
Little Piece 6: In the Word (Eph. 6:17)
Little Piece 7: Practicing Prayer (Eph. 6:18)
Return to the Big Picture: As we have seen, Ephesians 6 teaches us that Christians live by truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, and prayer.
What would it be like if we all focused on living with Christian Character?
Call people to live with Christian Character.
Summary Phrase: Ephesians 6 teaches us that Christians live by truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, and prayer.
Introduction of the Big Picture Idea:
I have put together a fairly simple summary of the material I hope to teach through my sermon. It isn’t particularly catchy but it is direct and fairly clear. If my intention was to teach this concept I would probably include a handout of some kind or a bulletin insert that lays out this summary so that people can refer back to it. I introduce the topic by paralleling the strength of a well-engineered bridge to the strength of the Christian with good character. This parallel should help introduce both the topic and the text.
Little Piece 1 – 7:
Here, we breakdown the passage into its component parts. Each of the pieces of the armor has a characteristic with it and gives us opportunity to talk about each of these characteristics. While this list isn’t necessarily exhaustive of all the characteristics of following Christ (for instance a similar list could be made of the fruit of the Spirit) but it is the list as laid out in Ephesians. In each case, you can expand on the particular characteristic by offering clear definitions, drawing on other passages that give us more information about the subject, or painting a picture of what the characteristic looks like in action.
Don’t forget to include some kind of return to summary phrase of your larger topic. It can be quite simple. For instance, you may explain the value of truth through Christ who is identified as the way and the truth. To be people of truth, we must follow after Christ. As you finish this summary you can return to the larger picture by way of a transition phrase such as: “As followers of Christ we live in the truth that Christ has called us to and this is a fundamental marker of Christian character.” It doesn’t fully quote our summary but points us back to the theme of Christian characteristics and reorients our sermon to the big picture.
Return to the Big Picture:
After developing all of your key pieces you can return to your original summary to highlight the larger concept of Christian character. You may want to return to the foundations you set up in your intro, like the bridge metaphor, to remind your audience of the importance of your subject.
As suggested in the previous post, the conclusion is a place to explore practical outcomes of these ideas. In this case, I used a question to call people into these practicalities. What would the world look like if we focused on living with Christian Character? From this question we can bring to the surface the potential of this idea to reshape our daily lives and to ultimately challenge your audience to live these characteristics. One way to propose this challenge is to encourage your audience to pick one of these characteristics and make it the focus of their week. Finally, we want to make sure to recap our big picture for good measure.
A Quick Note:
This sermon outline is dangerously close to being too much of a good thing. By which I mean, too long. If I was planning this sermon I would consider developing a series on these characteristics or limit the characteristics to a few of them. For example, you could focus closely on the first four characteristics which are more abstract than the last few. These sort of choices can be challenging as they feel incomplete but overwhelming your audience with too much information will mean they don’t get all the information anyways.
With that we have developed a simple sermon outline following the structure of teaching a concept from my previous post. This is not an exhaustive look but it does demonstrate how that outline can be applied. Feel free to post questions or comments below.
Check out the rest of the Simple Sermon Outline Series.