If you are not a preacher, don't read this. (Ah, I bet you read it now!) Let's talk about sermon preparation. Many won't need these words. I write specifically to those who do.
I've gone through a few phases of sermon preparation and have no idea what the next one or two...or three...will be. Getting to preach in the Church of Christ is more fascinating than I earlier imagined. It is a tremendous rush of spirit to enter any opportunity to link God's Word with His listeners.
At first, fear severely gripped me. Would there be enough lessons one could glean from the Bible to last at a place two years? Three or five? A mistake I made was to think of a good illustration and then fit God's Word around it. This could be called clever speech as God has intimated.
A significant problem with this approach is one has a limited resource of stories "if" God is not supplying new ones week by week.
But something happened. I saw myself in others who were using the same approach. I didn't like it. It felt shallow. I realized in that transition that the Bible carries its own weight. It doesn't need me to dress it up for the ball. It will move the hearers.
It is at this point I was able to move from pages of notes to scarcely any. This isn't about how many notes one uses nor is it about how many are the right amount. It is about confidence in the scriptures.
Now...something I felt earlier still remains. Fear severely grips me. What if I don't hear Him well? What if He leaves me at the pulpit all by myself? I beg of Him not to leave me up there alone. It is a terrible fear of mine to be saying many words which have no content or backing from above.
I would encourage any who need it to trust the Word of God. Let it have its shot at the people. Tell them about how those scriptures tie in with Jesus....John 5:39-41. Of course we want to deliver with power. Such isn't in intense voice levels but is clearly in reference to the Holy inspired words of Jehovah.
Shed the insecurity of how you will do. Take on the mantle of how He had done and is doing. An incredible example for me personally is Rick Atchley. Rick simply walks through the Word and relays it message after message. You may have another favorite. Study them. Note what seems to cause their message to stick. God uses all kinds. We are fortunate to be included in the mix.
For you? Do well. You are valuable. You have it in you (the Spirit of God) to accomplish beyond your personal skill. Therefore, trust Him. I don't think you want to preach sermon outlines. I think your people want you to tell them what God is up to!