There are basically two types of sermons. Which do my readers prefer?
The results aren’t very surprising, since the essays on my website could be considered expository sermons. That means if you like my website, you probably also like expository sermons.
- 89% chose:
- The sermon explores a Bible passage in depth, using both humor and solemnity to unpack its meaning. The pastor is articulate and thoughtful, and uses the passage to equip us to understand the basic issues of life. The sermon does not tell us what to think about contemporary social or political issues, but it does equip us to make good decisions. This is called an expository sermon.
- 11% chose:
- The sermon addresses some contemporary issue of social life or politics, using both humor and solemnity to explore all its facets. The pastor is articulate and thoughtful, considers all sides, and proposes a clear and reasonable solution. We don’t learn much about the Bible in the sermon, but the pastor does find a verse that ties in with the topic. This is called a topical sermon.
When they are done right, these are just two ways of doing the same thing. The expository sermon begins with the Bible and works toward a contemporary application, while the topical sermon begins with a contemporary issue and works toward the Bible.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each type:
- Topical Sermons
- They can easily be made lively, interesting, and current.
- They can build a congregational consensus about contemporary issues.
- They can cause the congregation to lose its religious consensus, because they tend to relegate religious issues to the back seat.
- They can easily become only tangentially related to the Bible, or they can use the Bible loosely or inappropriately.
- Expository Sermons
- They can help the congregation to achieve a unity of faith.
- They can help the members of the congregation develop their own ways of applying biblical principles to everyday life.
- They can give the congregation insufficient guidance.
- They can become dry and irrelevant, if they turn into lectures on Bible trivia.