This is a traditional three-point sermon template. Each point includes explanation, illustration, and application blocks.
Corvettes, apple pie, and three-point sermons. What do these things have in common? They’re classics—loved and easily recognized by many. In fact, this type of sermon is so ubiquitous that you’re probably wondering why we’ve bothered to include it at all.
Our reasons are twofold: First, we provide this template in Sermonary because most pastors will use it again and again. Second, although we acknowledge that it’s not the perfect outline format for every subject or preaching style, its advantages—mainly, that it’s straightforward to write and easy for people to follow—are worthy of consideration.
The three-point outline is similar to the essays you wrote in high school or college—you introduce a topic, expound on three points relating to it, then conclude by recapping what you’ve discussed.
As you’re plotting a three-point sermon, you can use this standard structure or tweak it to make it your own. In fact, many of the sermon outlines we’ve included in this post are fresh takes on the classic three-point sermon. For example, if you’re teaching your congregation about a certain Biblical concept, you can use the following format:
See what we did there? We sneakily added in a fourth point! This highlights another advantage of using this method: it’s flexible. You can have two to four main points in one sermon without changing the structure of your outline.
However, if you find that you need more than four points or that you’re running out of time to cover all of them, consider creating a sermon series on your topic and making each point the focus of an entire message.
If you’re trying to encourage your audience to change their thinking or take an action relating to a particular topic, you might want to tweak your outline so that you strike a mildly persuasive tone. In that case, you can use the following three-point sermon format:
a. Grab their attention
Tip: It might be helpful to end your introduction by stating the main question you’ll be answering with your sermon
Tip: In this point and the points that follow, it’s often a helpful memory aid for your listeners if you create a “mini” three-point structure within each of your main points. For example, if you’re talking about idolatry, you could discuss, “The idol of productivity,” “The idol of approval”, and “The idol of financial prosperity.” Then, in your next main points, you can flip each of these mini points on its head, discussing how Christians don’t have to do anything to earn grace or keep God’s approval, and that He offers a life that’s much more fulfilling than that of chasing anything this world has to offer.
Now that you’ve contrasted what God says with what the world says, it’s time to put your teaching in practical terms.
You can share a story about someone who lives or lived the principles you’ve discussed, encourage people to pinpoint their own wrong thinking or beliefs, or give specific action steps that people could take to apply these principles in their lives (e.g. “Next time I’m unhappy with my reflection in the mirror, I’ll remind myself that I belong to God, and I’m not a slave to the idol of other people’s approval!”)
Here, you’ll recap your main points in a succinct manner. Then, you can end your sermon with a specific challenge for people to apply during the week.
The three-point sermon isn’t only easy to organize—it’s also easy for your listeners to follow!
The three-point structure is so familiar that people are able to anticipate and understand where you’re headed. In other words, familiarity with the structure creates clarity.
However, as you’ve probably realized, the three-point sermon has limitations. The main issue? If you aren’t careful, it can be monotonous and predictable.
Sure, you can use this format when talking about any subject, but what about the things you talk about year after year, like Christmas and Easter?
When you’re a new pastor, bringing a fresh approach and ideas to the table might be no problem, but as you settle into preaching, it can start to feel like you’re teaching the same lesson over and over again—and if you’re feeling that way, chances are the people sitting in your sanctuary are, too.
You can try to solve this problem by using flashier technology or finding better and better stories to use as examples… Or, for more effective results, you can change up your presentation method by exploring a different preaching framework.
We believe writing and preparing sermons should be one of the highlights of pastoral ministry rather than one of the greatest burdens. That’s why we’ve created a sermon editor used by thousands of pastors to streamline their sermon writing process, inspire ideas to help them find momentum, and help keep the joy of ministry and sermon prep.