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organizing your sermon

As a result of reading “Communicating For A Change” by Andy Stanley, I gutted over 20 years of sermon structuring and began a new way of outlining my messages.  I haven’t regretted it for a moment.

It’s a simple outline: Main Point, Me, We, God, You, Us.

Here’s what that means …

  1. Main Point = what is your one central point?  Stanley echoes Fred Craddock who suggests that the best sermons can be summed up in one sentence.  I often state my main point right up front, saying something like “the one thing I want to talk about” or “the main thing I want you to take home is” … and them I’m off and running.
  2. Me = how does the main point apply to my life?  Or, how have I struggled with the main point?  In the “Me” section, the speaker is trying to connect on a personal level with the listener.  It’s about building trust and credibility.
  3. We = why should you (the audience) listen to this sermon?  What question does it answer?  What hope does it offer?  In the “We” section, I’m trying to help the audience see how the message relates to some facet of their life.
  4. God = what does God say about our main point?  This is the part of the message where we’ll open the Bible and listen to what God has to say.  I prefer to camp out in a single passage, but not always.
  5. You = what should you do about our main point?  The “You” section is all about application.  It’s where we take the main point and drive it home.  Often my main point is the application and this is when I’ll reinforce it with a challenge or direct call to action.
  6. Us = what should we do about our main point?  Or, what would our church be like if everybody did ____?  What would our world be like if everyone did ____?  In the “Us” section, we’re taking the application one step further — away from just a personal nature to a corporate application.

It’s a handy-dandy outlining method that helps us remember that preaching is ultimately about transformation.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • James Wood says:

    I like a lot of what Andy Stanley does and says. I think this sermon outline is good (it’s not great). My big issue is that when I listen to him, I don’t want to preach like him. He does his one-point thing (which I think is good), but he belabors that point like he’s putting on an SNL sketch. I was annoyed and bored 10 minutes into a 40 minute sermon.

    I totally resonate with the one-point idea. Too many sermons are ruined when the preacher tries to say too much. However I think the order should be more like: God, Me, We, You, Us. I want to start with seeking God (and I typically try to preach through a book, so the one point is coming from the text, not my opinions) and then see where he’s leading us.

  • Ken says:

    Hi James, thanks for reading and sharing several good points! I like what Fred Craddock says (and I’ll paraphrase): don’t get married to one type of form or structure. Allowing the text to breathe is a challenge when we want to get on with speaking.