Four Types of Sermon Outlines (And How to Choose One)

Content Prep, Practical Tips

Did you know there are four common types of preaching styles?

I remember the first time I heard Charlotte Gambill preach. I was in total AWE. Who was this woman and how did she learn to preach like this? All I knew was that something in me was brushing up with destiny. Seeing a woman preach in the way she did, brilliantly weaving the word together while telling captivating stories, awakened a part of my soul! I would later find out why I have the most fun when I am preaching a narrative style sermon.

Who is your favorite preacher? Have you ever taken the time to notice why they may be your favorite? There are several reasons why but one you may not be aware of is their choice of sermon outline. Sermon Style usually comes down to personal preference. It can reflect your personality. The type of sermon preached can determine who in the audience receives and who doesn’t as people gravitate toward certain styles based on their personality.



4 Common Types of Sermon Outlines:

  1. Expository

    • Expository preaching, exposes or expounds on the meaning of the preaching text in its contexts letting the text of Scripture create the point(s) of the sermon. It’s “exposing” the meaning of the text to the hearers.

      1. This enables us to preach the Bible in a way that highlights what God thinks instead of using the Bible to say what we think!

      2. John Stott:  defines expository preaching: Exposition refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary). To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view. The expositor opens what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted, and unfolds what is tightly packed. (Between Two Worlds)

    • Pros of Expository Preaching

      1. Preaching through the Bible forces you to take on sticky texts you may otherwise avoid

      2. You can rest in the authority of the Word itself as you are clearly bound to the word

      3. Can helps connect the dots of Biblical principles over time

    • Cons Expository Preaching

      1. You can focus on pouring over one book or one passage for so long that you neglect the full counsel of God’s word

      2. Can lead to a lack of application

      3. Has to potential to feel lackluster or boring

  2. Textual (Or Exegetical)

    • Textual sermons are similar to expository sermons by walking through one abbreviated passage.

      • In the textual sermon the outline comes from the text itself.

    • Pros of Textual Preaching

      • Should be very easy to understand as you are simply exploring verse by verse

      • Prevents wandering around the Bible and squeezing in extra verse that do not fit in order to make your points

    • Cons of Textual Preaching

      • Can get in the weeds trying force alliteration onto points

      • Isn’t a comprehensive treatment of the topic

      • Does not build on the foundations of in depth Bible study

  3. Narrative (Or Inductive)

    • A narrative sermon is a sermon that develops a sermon outline with loosely associated ideas that narrow down to a single idea in order to present an important message. This is an inductive method.

    • There are two ways to do this, Lowry’s Loop and Andy Stanelys Communicating for a Change

      1. Lowry’s Loop

        1. OOPS – Upsetting the Equilibrium

        2. UGH – Analyzing the Discrepancy

        3. AHA – Disclosing the Clue to Resolution

        4. WHEE – Experiencing the Gospel

        5. YEAH – Anticipating the Consequences

      2. Stanley’s Structure

        1. ME – Here is a problem I have or have had

        2. WE – Here is how this affects all of us

        3. GOD – Here is what God says about this problem

        4. YOU – Here is what you should do

        5. WE – Here is what would happen if we all did this

    • Pros of Narrative Preaching

      1. Narrative sermons are great for narrative genre or the biblical stories in the bible which often have a single idea to present

      2. Allows you to take  your audience on a journey to an important biblical truth

      3. There is power in storytelling to connect people’s emotions to action

    • Cons of Narrative  Preaching

      1. Can get off in the weeds and have a hard time bringing the story back to the point of the message.

      2. Not every book of the Bible is meant to be preached in a story format i.e. The Epistles should not be used in narrative sermons.

  4. Topical

    • A topical sermon is one way to drill down into a subject or theme so that the audience will understand the biblical meaning behind these subjects like identity or forgiveness.

    • Pros

      1. Can be easier for unbelievers to understand and encourage them to pursue a broad understanding of the Bible

      2. Allows the preacher to dive deeper into a particle theme while studying 

      3. When holidays come around, topical preaching makes sermon prep easier. Mother’s Day, Communion, Missions Day 

    • Cons

      1. Can easily become based in opinion as you build points around what you think instead of building points around the context of the verse.

      2. Can rely on extra biblical sources instead of the Word

      3. Unintentionally misusing Scripture to make it mean what you want it to mean

All four preaching methods are effective. You will find the closer you stick to the outline given in the Word the more powerful your message will be.

Choose any of the above and practice it out. I have linked resources for each below if you would like to do further research.

Resources used for this blog:

For a comprehensive and visual teaching on all four preaching styles check out More than Cake Youtube Channel.

Benefits and Pitfalls of Expository Preaching By Dr Peter Masters

What Makes Textual Preaching Unique? By Steven Mathewson

Narrative Preaching by Des Cummings, Jr., Ph.D.

Topical preaching – What is it?

If you want to know more about setting yourself up for success in communicating the Gospel, check out our four-day, hands on, and interactive training, The Echo Weekend.

The best way to develop your voice is to invest in your voice. Every time you invest in your own voice, your family, your community, and your world improve. I believe in your voice! This is a weekend you do not want to miss!!!



I didn't come from a ministry background, but when I married my husband in 2010 with an Interior Design degree from LSU and no seminary training, he welcomed me into the ministry. In 2012, a prophetic couple told me that I had the anointing of Lydia, and God wanted to use it to funnel millions through the Kingdom by starting online courses and classes. At this time, I had NO dream or even thought of Let’s Echo, but I received the word from the Lord. 

Today, I'm witnessing that prophetic word coming true. You are a prophetic word fulfilled and a dream come true! 

The Preacher Girl Club empowers women to use their voice for Jesus through our online coaching community, practical courses, and leadership resources. Our members collaborate, speak at each other's events, write content together, and start ministries side by side.

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