There are several kinds of sermons. Each of them has their own characteristics and purposes. I would say that all these can be used in different kinds of occasions but depending on a particular situation and to what God is telling to the preacher.
I cannot say which is the ultimate best form of sermon since I already have used all of these alternately. As for my own preference however, I usually work on Expository sermon and Series of sermons. Doing this allows me to have more topics to discuss and things to learn.
In this part, let us again remember the definitions of Preaching and Sermon. Preaching is a verb which means the act of proclaiming the gospel. While Sermon is a noun that refers to the content of preaching.
As the name implies, it is delivering a sermon by Bible exposition. N.M. Van Cleave in his book Handbook of Preaching defined Expository sermon:
“Expository sermon not only takes a subject and main divisions from the text, but all the subdivisions as well. It is usually based on a longer passage than the topical or textual sermon. Often the text is a whole paragraph, whole chapter, or even a whole book. No idea can be introduced into the expository sermon which does not come from the passage of Scripture upon which it is based. It is an exposition of the given passage and that only.”
There are several advantages of expository sermon.
- It is easier for a preacher to create a sermon series in one single context.
- Apostles seems to be using the same mode of preaching.
- It promotes solid Biblical foundation in one single context.
- It protects the preacher to be accused of preaching to individuals and using the pulpit for personal attacks or retaliation especially when conflict inside the church arises.
- It promotes solid exegesis because the message is just within the given passage.
Topical Sermon focuses mainly on a particular topic, or a topic within the text. Points does not necessarily come from one single text and are usually invented by the preacher guided by the rhetorical possibilities of the subject in accordance with the Bible and the preacher’s knowledge concerning the topic.
N.M. Van Cleave gave 2 advantages for this kind of sermon.
- It allows the preacher to have a liberty in composition and full treatment of any subject.
- It helps the preacher to be more creative and opens a wider door for rhetorical eloquence.
But there are some dangers in using this type of sermon more often.
- The content of the sermon is basically at the mercy of the preacher instead of what the Scripture is saying.
- More often it is too general in scope while the portion being presented is only a small part of the main idea.
- There are lots of possibilities that the preacher can abuse the exegetical rules in order to fit it in his sermon, especially that text passages from different points have different settings and context.
- There is a tendency for the topical sermon to be too secular in form.
- There is a tendency that the preacher will be presenting his own personal views and prejudices rather than what was the Bible really says.
- Topical is only good for preachers who does not preach frequently, but is not too helpful for regular preachers since it is more difficult to think for more topics rather than allow the word of God speaks to us.
N.M. Van Cleave defined Textual Sermon:
“The textual sermon tales from, the text and subject and the main divisions. The main points of the sermon are only those stated or clearly inferred by the passage of Scripture upon which the sermon is based. However, the subdivisions are invented in the same way that all the divisions are invented in the topical sermon.”
This means that the main difference between the topical sermon and the textual sermon is that topics did not just came out of the idea of the preacher but to what the passage is saying. And that the points though added or invented, are clearly a part of one passage.
In addtion, among the three kinds of sermons; expository, topical and textual, I would say that textual is half expository and half topical.
Textual Sermon also posseses some advantages
- It is more scriptural in design in comparison to Topical Sermon.
- The points are predictable since the sermon points can be found in the text.
- It also permits a variety of construction and selection of the preacher.
- Your hearers will not be left hanging since all the divisions and points can be found in the text. Meaning, it can be as good as a finished discourse.
- Most likely to be remembered more than the topical sermon especially if the hearers carefully followed the sermon. This is because, there will be a “memory connection” between the passage and the sermon at the back of the mind of the hearers.
Sermon series is more like a combination of expository and textual form of sermon. They are taken from the passages itself and then make an exposition. The difference lies in the sequence and number of sermons because series of sermons is not enough for just one sermon setting. They are most of the time unfinished discourse since it is composed of several sermons to finish.
What I usually do is that I walk through the Bible. I choose a book from the Bible and then make a sermon little by little through the passages. It usually takes me a couple of months to finish the whole book depending on the length of the book.
The main advantage of this is that if you are a regular preacher, it will be easier for you to make and think for your next sermon because you are only following one context. You will also save time in reviewing the background of the book since you will only make a background review at the beginning of the study of the book.
Another advantage that you can derive more knowledge of the background of the book since you are studying only one book for a certain period of time.
Bible Story Sermon
Some counted this to be in the form of “Narrative Sermon”. For the purpose of pointing out the difference between the fiction / experiential stories with Bible stories, I will refer to experiential and fictional stories if I talk about narrative sermons. On the other hamd, I will refer Bible stories in Bible story sermon.
Derived from its origin, “Simply The Story”, Bible Story sermon is more about telling Bible stories and then out of those Bible stories, the preacher creates his sermon. In the original STS, it does not allow you to preach the story.
However, I already tried several times preaching Bible stories.
Here is a simple step by step procedure in preaching Bible Stories:
- First, pray.
- Secondly, read the story several times until you understand the story. If possible, familiarize the the deatails of the story. Do not add nor subtract. However, feel free to use your own words.
- Practice yourself in telling the story. Be a little creative in doing so. Your goal is that your audience will completely understand what you are saying.
- Look for spiritual truths that lies in the story. The secret of doing this is by asking the right questions. I will not be discussing here how to ask the right questions, but you can see a simple guide in Lesson 3: Basic Inductive Bible Study.
- After seeing the spiritual truths in it, try to summarize it forming a sermon outline.
Tips In Delivering Bible Stories
- Deliver the story lively. If you cannot tell the story without reading, try to at least change the tones while delivering the story so that at least you can capture your hearers.
- If you can make it more creative by presenting it in drama form or at least non-traditional way of telling Bible stories.
- Maintain eye contact and your voice loud enough to be heard.
- In discussing Bible stories, avoid asking “Why” questions and questions that will lead to “Yes” or “No” questions.
Some of the advantages of Bible Story Sermon are the following:
- Purely Bible based. I believe this the strongest advantage that it has.
- It is more creative than that of traditional way of preaching.
- It is an eye opener that Bible stories are not only for kids but for all levels.
- It enhances our knowledge about the truths in Bible Stories.
- If you are a regular preacher, it is so easy to plan ahead of time what Bible stories are you going to discuss since the Bible is composed of about 70-80% story form content.
- Perfect for newly planted Churches especially those that have fewer members.
The only disadvantage with this one is that the preacher who does not have a talent in story telling will find it more difficult to use.
This is similar to Bible Story Sermon because it also deals with stories. The big difference however, lies with the story itself. In Narrative Preaching, the preacher uses experience and fictional stories and then quoting passages from the Bible to make a point, while Bible Story Preaching uses Bible Stories in delivering God’s word.
Here’s a simple process to get a picture of this kind of sermon:
- The preacher tells a fiction or an experiential story. Most of it are quite long, enough to consume 15 minutes of telling it.
- After telling the story, he will quote a passage which is very much related with the story and then present his concise points.
- Making an excellent conclusion is very crucial since this will tell the people if the story is really worth noting.
The main issue that can be raised against narrative preaching and is worth evaluating is the issue of it source of message. It is because narrative preaching is not purely Bible based.
Note: If you know another kinds of sermon, feel free to post in the form provided below.