As a preacher and teacher, my research and preparation is wide-ranging. . . including basic Bible study, gathering background information, original languages research, and so forth. One need which often comes up is the best way to present material on a certain subject. At those times I often resort to my print library and the internet to discover how others have already arranged the same material. In other words, I try to establish what “outline” would be most beneficial to my hearers. My favorite site online for such lesson arrangements is Executable Outlines by Mark Copeland.
The EO website contains well over 1,300 detailed lesson outlines on a wide range of biblical topics. Many are in series, that is, multiple lessons covering a single book or topic in depth. Now, for the sake of “full disclosure,” Mark Copeland and I share some things in common in addition to both being Christians, Bible teachers, and theologically conservative in our view of the Bible. We both are members of, and preachers in, the Churches of Christ. In addition, we both attended the same Bible college, so received the same Bible instruction from the same teachers. Yet, we have never met (to my knowledge) and have only corresponded once – in my preparation to write this article. Also know that I used and appreciated the EO website before I knew most of the above.
Executable Outlines has been online since 1992, even before the internet as most of us think of it today. The lessons are still hand-coded in HTML and posted a couple of times each week. Mr. Copeland reports that EO currently receives about 5,000 visitors per day; visitors come from about 100 countries each week. It is almost always the first result listed by the Google, Yahoo and other search engines for “sermon outlines.” It seems that many others also recognize the value of the material posted on the EO website.
When you visit the site, you will note the simplicity of the home page. Quick links to his book studies and topical series are available along with access to a large number of single lesson outlines. A SEARCH function is also available for those too impatient to drill down through the page links.
The outlines are often available for download in PDF format as well as printable right from the web page. They are arranged in typical outline form: Introduction, Main Topics, Conclusion. I find that comparing my own preparatory notes to an outline from EO often calls my attention to additional Biblical texts which bear on the subject, and perhaps even a different viewpoint on the meaning or application of some texts. Certainly, using even good materials like those from the Executable Outlines website should not replace doing the hard work of personal research and study. But a well arranged and straightforward presentation of material such as found at EO is a good thing! I think you would benefit by visiting this resource regularly in your study.