A solid gospel message is a gospel arrow. See my explanation of Psalm 45:5, “Your arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under You; Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.” Click here. If a gospel arrow accomplishes its task, it follows a straight path to the intended target. Again, the target of a gospel message is the sinful human heart. More on this point in another lesson. The straight path is the outline, the roadmap, taking the message to the heart.
There are many approaches to laying out the roadmap in a gospel message. An outline is a roadmap. The analogy of a roadmap, strongly suggests sequential outlines as the best approach. As indicated in my previous post, “The Mechanics of Gospel Archery,” click here, the gospel arrow analogy points to the sequential outline. Along this line, W.G.T. Shedd reminds us “that sermons are more defective in respect to unity of structure, and a constant progress towards a single end, than in any other respect” (Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 147).
In other words, a gospel message should display progress and movement toward its main point. Those listening to the message ought to sense this movement and be led to embracing the main point. There is a philosophy of ministry here. The speaker or preacher is a shepherd. Armed with well-formed gospel arrow, he leads those listening into the truth.
Gospel arrows, gospel messages, may take different forms. Here, I contrast two forms, which I call the Cluster and the Sequence. In the Cluster, the several points of the message all point to the main point, provided there is the main point. The several points form a cluster around the main point. See the diagram. This structure virtually prohibits movement or progress toward the single end designated in the main point of the message. Why?Everything points back to this main point.In developing a Sequence, each individual point in the message leads to the next point in a logical progression. Movement or progress is built into the structure of the message. The sequence of points leads to the main point. See the diagram. The Cluster approach tends to blunt a gospel arrow. A solid Sequence, laying out an orderly succession, ending in the main point of the message, sharpens a gospel arrow
Main Point of Message: Trust Christ to work biblical love in you through our teaching and preaching. Here is a possible sequential outline
1. Paul gives you instruction for life in the church.
2. The instruction you receive each week as you gather together comes from the Bible.
3. God has a goal for this biblical instruction; it’s not just getting through the lesson.
4. God’s goal is to produce love in you as He defines it and describes it in the Bible.
5. God reaches His goal by giving you pure hearts, good consciences, and unhypocritical faith.
6. Trust Christ to work biblical love in you through our weekly teaching and preaching.
Consider sharpening your gospel arrows by using sequential outlines in your presentations.