If an outline is to be used in full, then it would be appropriate and honest to “give credit” and to say in the simplest of ways that you are using or following Dr. Olford’s outline. For more permissions of use and our thoughts on pastoral plagiarism see "Avoiding Plagiarism in Preaching".
The full expanded set of sermon outlines is available for purchase from the Dr. Stephen Olford Ministry Online Collection.
This unique set of sermonic material is designed to assist in the development of expository messages. Written by Dr. Stephen Olford, these 364 expanded sermon outlines are presented in 7 volumes (28 quarters) of over 3000 pages. A helpful index is included. These outlines are printed on loose-leaf, three-hole-punched pages and can be kept in a standard 8 ½ by 5 ½ binder (not included).
A word from Dr. David Olford about these sermon outlines:
Dear Friend of Olford Ministries International,
These are days calling for truth, love, prayer, patience, and much more. Praise our Lord that He is able, yes, He is able to be our strength and our sufficiency as we seek to live faithfully for Him! These are days also when solid Biblical preaching continues to be needed, and therefore Biblical messages need to be prepared.
Approximately forty years ago, my father started the Institute for Biblical Preaching. The “IBP” was established to provide resources and training in the art and practice of Expository Preaching. One of the first resources produced was a series of expanded sermon outlines to help preachers as they sought to prepare Biblically faithful and homiletically helpful messages from the Word of God. There continues to be interest in these expanded sermon outlines today.
Starting this week, we will be making available to our subscribers “the front synopsis page” of these expanded sermon outlines. Seven outlines will be sent this week, and six will be sent two weeks from now. You should be receiving an outline every Wednesday. I hope these outlines are a blessing to you.
Why view someone else’s sermon outlines? Be assured, first of all, that we certainly encourage personal preparation for preaching (2 Timothy 2:15). We are to be workers, unashamed workers, “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” As a worker, we must take time to discern the truth in the text depending on the Holy Spirit. There is no substitute for study and prayer! Yes, we need to study the Scripture thoroughly ourselves and prayerfully seek to grasp the textual message in full and in its parts. The message needs to be God’s message to us as well as to the audience when it is preached. While studying, there is nothing wrong with using “tools” that help in the work. We can and need to use translations of the Bible in our own language. We may use various Bible concordances, dictionaries, or commentaries from trusted students of God’s Word. We may even read or hear sermons of faithful preachers on the same text of Scripture.
Where do the sermon outlines fit in this process? Certainly, one of the challenges in preparation is how to organize the message for clarity of truth and as the basis for appropriate application. The outlines we are sending are examples of how to structure a message on a particular text. This aspect of preparation may not be difficult for some preachers, but we know that it is a challenge for many. Sometimes it is when a preacher tries to structure a message that there can be a struggle and a “roadblock” to preparation.
So, how are they to be used?
1) They are a Teaching Tool.
By viewing these outlines, you will see how one preacher, Dr. Stephen Olford, sought to present the main truths of the text in outline form. We hope that these outlines will be a blessing, just as a devotional message would be a blessing. These outlines may help you to “see” how to develop a textual-thematic outline. The outlines also may give ideas for developing a series of messages.
2) They are a Guide or Stimulus.
The outlines may be used to help you develop your own outline on the same text, even if a few of the words are the same. If your outline is obviously different from my father’s outline, then it is not his outline anymore. It is yours. There is nothing wrong with letting people know that you benefitted from using any source in preparation, like Dr. Olford’s outline, but that is not always necessary.
3) They can be Useful Sermon Outlines for Messages
You, of course, can use the exact outline (as prepared by my father) for a message you are preaching. In that case, it is appropriate to give credit since you are using a printed resource. At the same time, remember that an outline is not a full message, it is a helpful structure for your message.
My father wanted preachers to benefit from his materials. He was not concerned personally about getting credit for himself. That was and is not the issue in “giving credit.” The issue is being honest about your sources and resources that you are actually quoting. We need to show integrity in every aspect of our lives and in preaching. Plus, you are helping your audience know where you have found a helpful resource that may be a help to them.
Even though this resource has been available for a long time, many people are unaware of it. So, one of the reasons that we are making these one-page outlines available is to let you know of the expanded outlines. As printed, there are seven volumes of these 52 expanded outlines divided into four quarters for each volume. There are over 3,000 pages of material in this resource. (The expanded outlines [hardcopies] are available in North America for purchase through the bookstore. It is too costly to ship these overseas.)
We need to be students of the Word of God. We need to set aside time to prepare messages carefully and prayerfully. We need to hear God’s message through His Word ourselves.
And yet, we learn from others. We have teachers, mentors, examples, and colleagues in ministry whom God has used to help us and indeed shape us to be more like Christ. We benefit from trusted servants of God and Bible students who have left us resources in print or other media. There is very little I know that I did not learn from others or that has been confirmed by others.
It would be foolish to think that God only speaks to me and uses my personal gifts and abilities without any connection to others, especially in the Body of Christ. Indeed, we need to study with humility, acknowledging that God has gifted others and we can benefit from the study and faithful work of others.
I hope that you are seeking to bless others through your direct teaching and preaching and that you are providing help for those who are seeking to understand God’s Word.
David Olford - President