+ James McCracken: Manual – Preaching Outline

James McCracken

Jim McCracken

The following article is from the Appendix of James McCracken’s Personal Training Manual. The article in his manual is entitled, Outline of Homiletics.


Any speech (sermon, testimony, message) has two basic elements. We will define them as preparation and presentation.



1.  Bible
2.  Other books and references (concordance, atlas, dictionary, etc.)
3.  People
4.  Personal experience
5.  Examples and stories


1.  Focusing on the Lord
2.  Thinking about what you’ve read
3.  Listening and observing
4.  Waiting for the Lord to open your understanding and give you anointing



  1. Our goal should be to leave the people with at least one thing they will remember and apply
  2. Our content will depend on our approach
    1. Speaking on a subject
    2. Speaking from a Bible text
    3. Speaking to a problem – giving a solution
    4. Sharing an experience
  3. Generally our content will be presented in three phases
    1. Introduction
    2. Main Body
    3. Conclusion
  4. We should feel free to use anything that will clarify and drive home our message, i.e.
    1. Background
    2. Definitions
    3. Illustrations
  5. Our statements should support each other, relate to each other, flow and come to a conclusion


  1. Verbal
    1. Speak loudly enough — but not too loud
    2. Enunciate
    3. Avoid vague or meaningless words (nice, neat, sort of, like) and filler words (just, really, um, ah)
    4. Don’t apologize (“I’m not a good speaker, but …”)
    5. Have variety in your vocabulary
  2. Physical
    1. Have a good personal physical appearance
    2. Set the right atmosphere physically (proper light, no noise, no distractions)
    3. Have good posture and body motions, which don’t distract, but enhance/emphasize
    4. Have eye contact with people
    5. Reflect in your countenance what you feel God is saying
    6. Generally take away all distractions (don’t rustle papers, sniff, pick, or rattle change or keys in your pockets)
    7. If applicable, use a visual aid to support what you say


  1. Be Natural — Be yourself
    1. Don’t compare yourself (2 Corinthians 10:12)
    2. You will be speaking the rest of your life
    3. Develop your own natural style and habit patterns now
  2. Be Dramatic — Come out of yourself
    1. Don’t be intimidated by men’s/women’s faces (Proverbs 29:25, Jeremiah 1:8, Ezekiel 3:8-11)
  3. Be sure — Repeat yourself
    “Stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.” (2 Peter 3:1)
  4. Be simple — Make yourself understood
    Read 1 Corinthians 14:9 — simple, easy, and significant
  5. Be anointed — Stir yourself
    Pray, meditate on and visualize your message — catch the vision of it (2 Timothy 4:1-5, 1 Timothy 1:6, Acts 17:16, 17)
  6. Be involved — Avail yourself
    Preach, teach, speak, share, exhort, etc. The only way to learn is to do



To understand the exalted place preaching has in the plan of God for mankind and to inspire us to pursue excellence in the  proclamation of His Holy Word.


John Naisbitt’s 1982 book Megatrends cites the reshaping of our country from an industrial to an information society. It is imperative that Christian leaders be masters of communication.

History and the Bible are full of examples of Christian leaders whose obedience and speaking changed the destinies of peoples. Will you pay the price to be one of His spokesmen in these closing hours of history? Today, like never before, “we need bold, courageous, aggressive heralds of God’s current Word in the earth.”

Burn on


  1. Preach (kerusso) to herald or proclaim, (didache) to teach
  2. Preaching
    • “The communication of divine truths with a view towards persuation.” (T.H. Patterson)
    • “God calling out to mankind through a human instrument.” (Anonymous)
    • “The fervent declaration of the eternal and immediate purpose of God, with a view towards inspiring a commitment to His purposes.” (Charles Simpson)

Biblical preaching

    • “There is a sharp distinction between a mere sermon: something any preacher can prepare; and a message: something you get from God!” (Bailey Smith)

The Centrality of Preaching in God’s Plan for Humanity

  1. Importance in Scripture
    1. “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14-15)
    2. Foolishness of preaching (2 Corinthians 1:18-21)
  2. Importance in the life of a man/woman of God
    1. Be an example, give yourself to preaching (1 Timothy 4:11-16)
    2. Preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

The Authority in the Preached Word of God

  1. Scripture is invested with divine power
    1. 1 Timothy 3:16
    2. Hebrews 4:12-13
  2. Scripture is intended to be confirmed by the Holy Spirit
    1. Confirming the Word (Mark 16:15-20)
    2. Watching over the Word (Jeremiah 1:12)

B not ashamed

“From 50 years of ministry and 25 years on revival-time radio I believe the three fundamentals of dynamic ministry are:

  • The authority is in the Word
  • The power is in the gospel
  • The attraction is in Jesus
    (C. M. Ward)

Bible says

Preparation and Delivery of the Word of God

  1. The importance of waiting on God for His Word and anointing (Jeremiah 23:18-21 & Psalm 39:3)
    To muse” – to ponder, to study in silence, to be so occupied in study or contemplation as not to observe passing scenes or things present.” (Websters of 1828)

    1. Everything God speaks to you is at first in seed form. (Mark 4:26)
    2. Hearing the voice of the Lord is a skill to be learned. (1 Samuel 3:1)
  2. The secret of becoming a great speaker is being inflamed with godly ideas and convictions (Jeremiah 20:8-9)
    1. When a person is aflame with an idea, his desire will be to plunge into a message with passion.
    2. When a person is aflame with a word from God, he can learn to bury self-consciousness and be absorbed with the message. (Moses – Exodus 3:7, 10, 11-15; Jeremiah – Jeremiah 1:6-8)

B Luther

B burning

B Sunday

B Edwards

B Reader

B Orderly

B Interesting

b truthful

b practical

Keep a Notebook and a File

  1. An idea left unrecorded is an idea most likely lost. A short pencil is better than a long memory; the weakest ink is better than the strongest memory.
  2. “All this,” said David, “the Lord made me to understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern.” (1 Chronicles 28.19)

Cultivate Godly Attitudes in Preaching the Word of God

  1. Attitude of a servant: never speaking to impress, but to serve.
    “Ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)
  2. Attitude of humility that demonstrates itself in boldness, not false humility (self-abasement), but belief in God to do as He has said (true humility).

Rehearse Messages by Conversing With Others

  1. Jesus: The common people heard him gladly.
  2. Finney: rehearsed his sermons with his illiterate maid.

Speak with Enthusiasm, emotion and conviction

  1. “He makes His ministers a flame of fire.” (Hebrews 1:7)
    “Zeal for thy house consumes me.” (John 2:17)
  2. Realize your personality. (en theos = in God)
  3. Three objectives: a) inform the mind, b) stir the emotions, and c) challenge the will.
    “I’d rather have sensation than stagnation.” (D. L. Moody)
    “I’d rather you speak with conviction and be wrong than in a weak, indecisive, monotone, jellyfish manner.” (Ralph Wilkerson)

Study Other Anointed Men of God to Learn From Their Lives

  1. Don’t fear some imitation as you develop in ministry.
    “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.” (Derek Prince)
  2. Celebrate your uniqueness in the Body of Christ as you discover your style and life message.

Closing Suggestions for Effective Pulpit Ministry

  1. Don’t let discouragement deter you from your goal.
  2. Don’t start full speed unless it’s an exhortation: avoid explosion approach or attacking people.
  3. Pray before entering the pulpit.
  4. Dress appropriately; dress so no one remembers what you had on.
  5. Avoid distractions — annoying mannerisms.
  6. Avoid eating too much before speaking.
  7. Avoid cold water during or after speaking.
  8. Walk gracefully; don’t slouch or strut.
  9. Be confident because of God’s presence and your preparation.
  10. Deal with distractions in the room; don’t try to ignore them.
  11. Don’t say, “conclusion” and not stop or introduce new truths.
  12. Try to have people stand and shift positions if they have been sitting for a considerable time span.
  13. Love the people and remind yourself often what an honor it is to be His herald of good news.
  14. Always remember: effective communication is a skill that requires diligence and persistence, but the fruit of changed lives is well worth the investment.

b longfellow

b like fire