How do you structure and format your sermons?

I have previously written about how I prepare my sermons. You can read that here. But I have also been asked more recently about how I structure my sermons. I appreciate everyone will do these things differently, but this is the way that works for me.


  • Opening
    • (Usually) open with the the key question the passage/sermon will answer.
    • State how the question is relevant to the people listening.
    • Note the key point of the passage that links to the question
  • Context
    • Brief overview of where we are at in the book
    • Brief statement of how this passage fits into the book
  • Outline
    • State the specific points that will be drawn from the passage
    • (Usually) the point will be the main point of application

Main body

  • State main heading of the point about to be made
  • Point to where this is drawn from the passage – refer to specific bits of text to show that this point is from the text itself
  • Apply the point specifically and directly to the people listening – move away from the point in the text and explain how this point is specifically relevant to those in the congregation and what they must do with it

(Repeat this process for each point you are making)


  • Restate (in a sentence) the main point of the passage
  • Restate the key points that were drawn from the text (if you have headed them rightly, these will be the main points of application)
  • Encourage everybody to respond appropriately to those points of application.

That is my essential outline for a sermon. I usually format the notes so that each new section is divided by a page break. I usually end up with 6 or 7 pages of A4 formatted as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3
  • Conclusion

My notes are usually formatted with the title of the heading at the top of the page. This is followed by an opening comment on the text itself, under which all the points I will make from the text are written out in long form sentences but each point is listed in bullet points. If I am moving from pointing to the text to application, I paragraph space and then have the same format (opening comment on application followed by long form sentence bullet points).