Before writing your sermon you will need to ask yourself a very important question, "What is the point?" In other words, what am I trying to accomplish with this sermon? A sermon outline is really nothing more than a map to wherever it is you are going with your sermon. If you don't know where you are going with your sermon it will be impossible to draw a map to get there or even know when you have arrived.
Too many preachers have no concise idea where they are going with a sermon and so their map (sermon outline) makes no sense and they have difficulty concluding their sermon. Before you begin writing one thing on your sermon outline, know where you are going.
Things You Will Need
In order to write a sermon outline, you may find the following resources very helpful:A Study Bible - Your Bible should be one that is a reliable translation. You will not want to use a paraphrase translation, such as the message, for writing your sermon outline. I would recommend translations that are know for being literal translations such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), and the New King James Version (NKJV).
A Concordance - A concordance allows you to search the Bible for a particular English word. The Strong's concordance is a particularly good concordance to use. While writing your sermon outline you may need to look up several words to find supporting passages, the concordance will allow you to do this easily.
A Bible Dictionary - No doubt you will encounter many words while preparing your sermon outline which are unfamiliar to you. You will need to know what the original Greek or Hebrew words mean so that you will be able to give adequate explanation to the congregation.
A Computer or Pen and Paper - These days it is much easier to write a sermon or a sermon outline on a computer, rather than using a pen and paper. However, either method is still effective for making your notes from which to preach your sermon.
Computer Software - There are several pieces of software that can make writing a sermon outline a whole lot easier. Check out some sermon software if you like using a computer to write sermon outlines.
Write down, in the introduction of your sermon outline, why this sermon is important to the congregation. Let them know why they need to hear what you are preaching. If they do not understand, within the first few moments of your sermon, why they should listen...they probably won't.
Let's pretend you want to encourage the congregation to be radically Christian. You would start your sermon by telling them why it is necessary that they are totally committed to Christ.
Next, you want to write the main points of your sermon outline. Develop points that support what you have told the congregation in the introduction. Make sure that you use the concordance and your Bible to back the point of the sermon outline up with Scripture. It is fine to use a few quotations and stories in your sermon; but focus most of your attention on filling it with God's word.
Again, if your sermon is about being radically Christian, you would write each point of your sermon outline to support your claim that each Christian should be radically devoted to following Jesus Christ.
Conclude your sermon with a call to action. A sermon should be written to stir men's souls. It should motivate them to do something. It should not simply tell them what God's word says and make no attempt at application. When concluding your sermon outline, tell the congregation what they should do based upon what they have heard.
A great idea, at this point, is to extend the Lord's invitation. Ask if anyone needs prayers or needs to be baptized for the remission of their sins. And encourage them to take what they have heard, in your sermon, and put it into practice in their lives.
Preparing a sermon outline can be an intimidating task when you think about the importance of communicating God's word to a group of Christians. However, when you realize that the sermon is not about you, it is about God, it may take some of the pressure of you. Simply tell the people what God says, what it means, and what to do about it.
Tips & Warnings
Remember, do not rely too heavily on quotes, statistics, stories, and jokes. Your job in preaching a sermon and writing the sermon outline, is to present God's word.
Do not present your opinion to the audience. What you think doesn't matter. What matters is what God has said. Stick to God's thoughts and you can't go wrong.
Only preach a sermon about something for which you are passionate. If you don't care about tattoos or know nothing about the subject, don't preach a sermon entitled "What Does the Bible Say about Tattoos?" Stick to things you know and are passionate about.