Make Smooth Transitions
Once the basic outline of the sermon is in place, some transitional wording needs to be inserted between the big idea and the main points of the outline. This involves asking a pertinent question about the big idea and then answering it with a second statement. The transition may be left out of the written outline, but it will always be necessary to make the transition verbally when you preach.
I did it this way for years. However, I have found that I’m more precise when I think through and refine my transitional question and answer. I then insert these two transitional sentences into my outline between the big idea and the main points of the outline where I previously recorded the temporary transition type. The first transitional sentence—the question—will depend on the relationship between the big idea and the main points that you decided upon when you constructed the main points of the outline. Remember that the main points will explain, prove, apply or restate the big idea.
Good transitions may seem unnecessary because they will hardly be noticed at all by the listeners. For example, listeners will routinely write down the main points, but ignore the transitional wording. However, if a good transition is lacking, it will be noticed. Listeners will not necessarily know what’s missing, but a missing transitional statement will leave them groping for the logical connection between the big idea and the balance of the outline.
Here, again, is the sermon outline based on Psalm 1:1-6. Notice how the transitional question and answer point out the purpose of the main points which in this case is the application of the big idea to the life of the listener.
Title: The Pathway to Wisdom
Text: Psalm 1:1-6
Big Idea: Wise Men Do What’s Right
Transitional Question: How do we demonstrate wisdom?
Answer: There are three guidelines we must follow.
I. Don’t walk with the ungodly (1).
II. Don’t wander from God’s Word (2).
III. Don’t waste your life (3-6).
In rounding off the main points and preaching the big idea, it is good to revisit the transitional statements. In effect the transitional statements already used to identify the relationship between the big idea and the main points also become the transition between the individual main points. Here is an example of how that would be done after completing the first main point in a sermon.
Wise men do what’s right! How do we do what’s right? We do what’s right bynot walking
with the ungodly. Now let’s look at a second way to do what’s right. Don’t wander from God’s
Carefully constructed transitions will precisely reflect the relationship that exists between the big idea and the main points all the way through the outline, and repeatedly put the focus on the big idea which is what most expositors fail to do well. It is a cardinal sin for an expositor to become so enamored with his main points that he forgets to preach the big idea. Doing so leaves the listeners with a smattering of unconnected ideas, and an unwelcome level of confusion. The big idea is kept in focus by rounding off the main points of the outline and preaching the big idea. There is a tendency to omit this step when using a projected outline that every listener can see, but I would not advise relying on the visual alone.