In the next series of posts, I am examining more Warning Signs of a Bad Pastor. I am taking these from my own experience and several posts on the subject that I have found around the Internet, comparing all of that with what I understand of Scripture.
Perhaps I should emphasize more the word “Useable” in creating a useable sermon outline. Many preachers use sermon outlines, but a lot of times they work against the preacher more than for him. Really they are not useable sermon outlines. This article will present some thoughts on the subject.
Here we need to be careful, but a sermon outline needs to be “put in its place”. It is a help, or at least should be. One point here is that depending on the age/eye sight of the preacher, it should be readable, medium or large print. I am against preachers writing a sermon and then reading it verbatim. It should help you remember to present a sequence of ideas and verses, but it should not overwhelm the preacher. It is like an athlete and his shoes. Without shoes, a runner or football player would have extreme problems, but his shoes are just a help for him to do what he is doing.
On the one hand, preachers should not “be bound” to a sermon outline. For example, by this I mean that when a preacher makes a point from his outline and the people look puzzled, he needs to stop the outline and explain the point more. If he recognizes something unbiblical, illogical, or not clear, he should feel free to break with the outline and go off the outline. Equally he may misjudge the time of a sermon, and his comfortable time limit is surpassed before the sermon outline is complete, so he should break and end the sermon.
Let me also make the point here that preaching is “feeding sheep” in a spiritual sense. This process is difficult, because the sheep have certain universal needs, but in every case, the individual sheep have individual needs. Being a pastor and preaching to a group has to take into consideration that element, and the wise and effective pastor MUST discern these individual problems and needs “as we go along.” By that I mean that sometimes God will reveal to you a special need, say for example when some event happens (think 9-11) and your sermon for Sunday morning maybe is going to be set aside and you must deal with things that are taking over people’s minds instead.
The sermon outline is a help, and when it stops being a help, the preacher needs to revamp completely his preparation and his sermon notes.
Another issue here is handwriting sermon outlines. If you cannot easily read the sermon notes/outline, then get a computer and print them.
Resume: This article explains the thinking and strategy of using a sermon outline when preaching sermons.
Sermon outline, What is it?
A sermon outline is simply a guide to where you will logically “go” (speak) during a discourse. The options here are limited. (1) You use some kind of guide (a sermon outline). (2) You speak without any guide, just entering with a general topic to which you do not hold alliegance to follow, but rather wander from topic to topic.
Some preachers actually think that the later is somehow “being guided by the Holy Spirit”, and that is the only valid way to preach. We have no evidence really as to public speakers using or not using these “topical guides”. Dr. Bob Jones Jr. used this later strategy, and his defense was, “A sermon outline is like a skeleton. When you see a person’s bones, something is very wrong.”
While this thinking is actually popular among a lot of preachers, and many preachers who use sermon outlines actually break from their outline regularly holding this thinking as “a moving of the Holy Spirit”, the thinking is really not that great. It is flawed, and has a lot of problems. First of all, Dr. Bob Jones Jr had a lot of preaching experience and exposure (his dad was an evangelist so he grew up in the element of preaching). People like that have from where to draw from. Experienced preachers who have more than 10 or 20 years of preaching “under their belt” can preach extemporaneously and can “pull it off”. Most others fail when trying, and even experienced preachers have their problems when preaching without thinking through what they are saying. Not that last comment. Preachers that have preached on salvation hundreds of times can stand up without notes and do fine. But that is not to say that they did not prepare, it is to say that after preparing and preaching so many times on the same topic, to comment on it from memory is very easy and can be done very successfully.
A sermon outline is simply a prepared list of thoughts and verses that the preacher uses to guide his presentation.
There are two key issues to clarify in using a sermon outline: (1) Does an outline hinder the Holy Spirit? (2) Is an outline necessary and serve an essential purpose?
Is less pastoring better? is my opinion about the great need for MORE pastoring of our people instead of less pastoring, less interaction with people’s problems. I read an article named, 4 Starter Ideas for the Care and Treatment of an Unhealthy Church, and in it, it mentions the growing idea that less pastoring is somehow better than more. (I don’t think the author is in favor of that position).