How to Write a Sermon – Guide with Sample Sermon Outlines

Ready to capture the attention of all of your congregants with a moving and powerful sermon? If you aren't sure where to start, you've come to the right place! In this article, we'll guide you through writing a sermon and even provide some sample sermon outlines to help get your creative juices flowing.

7 minutes read
How to Write a Sermon – Guide with Sample Sermon Outlines

Sermons are the primary way your church communicates with its members and the community at large. As a preacher or minister, you’re responsible for the spiritual growth of your church and the individuals that call your church home.

Delivering an inspiring sermon every week can be time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming. In this article, we’ll share different types of sermons you must include, the steps to develop a compelling sermon, and outlines for sermons on spiritual growth and living a generous life.

What is a Sermon?

In its simplest form, a sermon is a religious or moral speech based on scripture.

Human history is full of oral traditions, from stories being told around the campfires of the earliest humans to the public discourse and media we have today. Sermons are a different type of discourse than many, but pastors can take parts of each to help share God’s message with their congregations.

3 Types of Sermons Your Church Needs

How your church leaders choose to tell the stories from the Bible and the morals Jesus’ disciples spread is up to you. There are three types of sermons that you can include in your repertoire to help share God’s message.

1. Topical

One of the best ways to connect with your parishioners is to relate your message to current events or trends. In today’s world, most of your attendees are constantly online and inundated with news about politicians and celebrities.

As a church leader, you have a responsibility to help your congregation internally and externally address these trends. By putting popular issues and news stories in the context of the Bible, you’ll help your congregation process the feelings these trends inspire.

2. Narrative

Storytelling is the most powerful way to spread a message. Stories of real-life people can help us understand what’s happening in our lives and give us a framework to work through serious issues.

There are many narratives in the Bible to choose from, but one of the most famous is the story of Job. As you walk your congregation through Job’s life, how he felt, and how faith carried him through the worst, you can help parishioners gain and strengthen their faith.

3. Verse by verse

The final type of sermon is less emotional. Discussing the Bible verse by verse sounds like a bore, but if done correctly, it can educate and inspire your congregation to learn more.

Preachers with expert knowledge of the Bible can help explain what specific verses meant when they were written. By sharing that knowledge, you can strengthen parishioners’ confidence in their beliefs and the Bible’s message.

How to Write a Sermon

sermon outline writing

Writing an inspirational sermon takes several steps. It isn’t very often that you’re able to sit down and write out a sermon in full. Instead, you must find your own inspiration, decide how to share the message, outline the sermon, and then write and edit.

As you work through the following steps, remember you’re not alone, and the hard work you put into each sermon will help you connect with your congregation.

Step 1 – Pray for inspiration

The first step every church leader should take before starting on this journey is to pray for inspiration and help from the Lord. Prayer is necessary regardless of how confident you are.

With it, you can gain sight of your true mission and purpose. God is listening. When you pray, ask for Him to speak through you.

Step 2- Determine the purpose of your sermon

This step may start with choosing the type of sermon, topical, narrative, or verse-by-verse. Another way to think about this can be to think of what your church needs right now.

Are you seeing a lack of faith or involvement from your community? Do you worry about how people are treating each other?

These internal issues should not be ignored, and you are in a unique position to use your sermon to spread awareness.

Step 3 – Identify your audience

Part of choosing the purpose of your sermon is to know who you’re speaking to. As you search your heart for aspects of the outside world and your church you want to talk about, ask yourself who needs to hear what you have to say.

Step 4 – Study and research

Once you have your topic and audience worked out, it’s time to fill out your sermon with details and facts. What stories and verses in the Bible can help explain what you want people to understand? Are there any other external sources that can help?

Every idea and message that you share must have something to back it up to help build trust and credibility for you and the church.

Step 5 – Outline your sermon

Some preachers can sit and write a sermon from scratch, but they are a rarity. Most people have an easier time telling a story when given a map of where to go. An outline is an excellent way to create that map.

Your outline can lay out your sermon’s narrative and place Bible verses in the right place to make your point. Another benefit to writing a sermon outline is that you don’t have to write your sermon word for word. A sermon outline will work whether you write the full sermon or preach extemporaneously.

Step 6 – Finalize introduction and conclusion

After outlining your sermon and including Bible verses and other messages, you should have a solid idea of what you want to say. Before finishing up, take a few moments to write out and finalize your introduction and conclusion.

When you’re up in front of your congregation, it’s easy to be moved by the moment and your emotions. With a written introduction and conclusion, you can ensure your message isn’t lost in the delivery.

2 Sample Sermon Outlines for Your Church

sample sermon outlines

With a different sermon every week, you’re bound to get stuck. In those cases, there are two sermon outlines you can keep handy to create inspirational sermons for your congregation.

1. Sermon on spiritual growth

Spiritual growth is vital for everyone, regardless of who you are on earth. It’s easy to get comfortable with your life and forget that you must grow spiritually.

Living a Godly life is not always comfortable. The following outline can help you share this message and encourage your parishioners to reflect on how they can grow spiritually.

1.1 Engage

Initially, you must find a way to engage your audience and convince them to keep listening. When speaking about spiritual growth, you can use inspirational stories from the Bible, your community, yourself, or the news.

Pro tip: You may also want to include an added speaker or video to catch people’s attention. Since many churches stream their services online, a video can help you better reach a new audience.

1.2 Tension and truth

After you share an engaging story, it’s time to challenge your parishioners to think of ways they can grow spiritually.

  • Ask where they have fallen short.
  • Share why spiritual growth is necessary.
  • How can a lack of spiritual growth stop you on Earth and in Heaven?

This can be uncomfortable for some, so take time here to share messages from the Bible to back up your claims. This is also a good time to stop and pray as a congregation.

1.3 Application and inspiration

What does a Godly life look like? As you answer why spiritual growth is necessary and what happens to your life without it, you can also share examples of biblical leaders and even individuals today that people can look to for inspiration.

1.4 Action

Now that you’ve given them a vision of who they can become, it’s time to create a framework for your parishioners to follow. This can include adding prayer to their daily habits, reading the Bible, connecting with other followers of Jesus, and different ways to give back.

A call to action at the end of your sermon can help inspire your audience to think ahead and plan how to improve their spiritual life.

Pro tip: Volunteering is a powerful way to share God’s gifts. Your church can make it easy for congregation members to volunteer by adding a page to your website and investing in volunteer management software. Listing diverse ways people can volunteer including peer-to-peer fundraising, and making it easy to sign up will encourage more involvement. Check out Donorbox Peer-to-Peer for a smooth peer-to-peer fundraising experience at your church.

Try Donorbox Peer-to-Peer!

2. Sermon on giving

Individual growth isn’t the only way to grow spiritually. Unfortunately, for your church to grow you must raise funds. Asking for money from your congregation is never easy, but messages about tithing and offering can give you an easier way to address your parishioners.

2.1 Engage

Conversations about money can start with dreams for the future or memories of the past. Sharing how members have affected your church and helped you grow can show how crucial each individual and each dollar is to the life of your church.

Pro tip: If you have a significant construction or program plan, now can also be an excellent time to introduce it to your members. Capital campaigns can take at least a year. By taking the time to introduce your plan to financial supporters in the beginning, you’ll help them feel involved. They will have a better connection to your vision and will be more likely to give and share your campaign with others.

2.2 Tension and truth

The tension of asking for money is evident, so here is where you’ll need to share the truth. The Bible says God’s followers must give bountifully to receive His bounty. Most Christians understand and follow the tradition of tithing and giving an offering. Here, you can add a few verses to explain how God sees this practice.

2.3 Application and inspiration

During your sermon on giving, you shouldn’t limit your focus to the church. As a leader in your community, it is your responsibility to share how to live a generous life in all ways. You can list different avenues of generosity and share how they can affect people’s lives on Earth and Heaven. You can also give examples of generous living in the Bible and in your community.

2.4 Action

Finally, you’ll want to move your parishioners from thinking to acting. Give them ways to be generous to others. Also, show how your church has shared its gifts with others in your community.

Pro tip: There are several ways to make it easy for your congregation to give beyond passing around an offering plate. Many churches have leveraged ways such as QR codes, text-to-give, recurring giving, and giving kiosks to connect with attendees. Check out Donorbox for effective church giving. With our dedicated pillar, Donorbox MinistryMatters, we aim at developing and offering dynamic digital giving tools that help churches keep the funds flowing and make stronger connections.

Donorbox MinistryMatters - Learn More!

Final Thoughts

Delivering a sermon takes faith, Godly inspiration, talent, and hard work. As a pastor, your congregation looks to you for motivation and direction. Your sermon must build a connection, galvanize, educate, and give concrete advice and steps for them to take.

The Bible is the foundation of your faith, but churches can use several other tools to communicate better with parishioners. Go to our Nonprofit Blog and find out articles, free templates, and other resources dedicated to church fundraising. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a curated list of our best resources in your inbox every month!

Want to learn how Donorbox can help you grow church giving? Check out Donorbox MinistryMatters – a dedicated pillar that is built with churches and their congregations in mind. It offers innovative and proven tools, features, and services that help boost giving to your church.

Learn about our range of tools on the website. Sign up to start fundraising in just 15 minutes!

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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