Sermons are a vital aspect of the Christian life meeting a wide range of spiritual, emotional and even communal needs of the listeners. However, not all sermons are the same or are created equal. There are different types of sermons and they can vary in style, structure, and purpose depending on the context in which they are delivered. Understanding the different types of sermons and their purposes can help us better appreciate the role they play in our spiritual growth and development. Today we will be exploring the various types of sermons which can be broadly classified into seven (7) types.
Textual sermons are one of the most common types of sermons delivered by preachers. As the name suggests, textual sermons are based on a particular text or passage of scripture from the Bible. The preacher selects a specific verse or section of scripture and delivers a sermon based on that passage.
Textual sermons are an effective way of exploring the meaning and context of a particular scripture. The preacher can delve deep into the text, providing historical, cultural and theological context to help the listeners understand the passage better. This type of sermon is especially useful when the preacher wants to explore a specific theme or message conveyed in the scripture.
Topical sermons are focused on a particular subject or theme. They may be part of a sermon series or a standalone message. Topical sermons use a variety of Bible verses to illustrate the point and are usually useful for addressing a specific issue or question that the congregation may have. Usually the goal is to help listeners understand and apply biblical principles to their lives.
Without a specific passage of Scripture to anchor the sermon, it can be easy for the preacher to stray from the Bible and rely too heavily on personal opinions or anecdotes when exploring a sermon topically. To avoid this, preachers must be intentional about using the Scriptures as the foundation for their message and ensuring that their sermon is rooted in biblical truth.
The use of a biblical story as the primary source of a sermon is usually referred to as a narrative sermon. The preacher usually usually unpacks the meaning behind the story by exploring its characters, themes, and context. Narrative sermons can be quite powerful because they allow listeners to connect with the story and the characters on a personal level, making the message more relatable and memorable.
One of the most famous narrative sermons is the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), which tells the story of a man who is robbed and beaten by robbers and left for dead. Several people pass by without stopping to help, but a Samaritan stops and goes out of his way to care for the injured man. The story is used to teach the importance of showing compassion and love to others, regardless of their background or social status.
Thematic sermons focus on a particular theme or topic that runs through a passage of Scripture, rather than a particular text or story. The theme can be a theological concept, a moral principle, or a practical application.
One advantage of thematic sermons is that they can address complex topics in a comprehensive way. Instead of limiting the message to a single passage or story, the preacher can draw on multiple texts and perspectives to explore a theme. Thematic sermons can also help listeners to see how different parts of the Bible are interconnected and contribute to a larger theological framework. We see this play out in the book of Romans as Paul explores what it means to be justified by Faith by making use of examples of Abraham and David and other Old Testament texts.
Historical sermons are focused on the events and people of the past, and their significance for our present-day understanding of faith and spirituality. These sermons draw on stories and characters from the Bible, as well as from the wider history of Christianity, in order to help listeners understand the relevance of past events and figures for their own lives.
Ultimately, the goal of historical sermons is to help us connect more deeply with the rich legacy of the Christian tradition, and to find inspiration and guidance for our own spiritual journeys in the lives and stories of those who have gone before us.
Character sermons are a type of sermon that focuses on the virtues, qualities, or personalities of biblical characters or historical figures. The aim of these sermons is to draw inspiration from the examples set by these individuals and to encourage listeners to emulate their virtues. Character sermons can be based on any biblical or historical figure, ranging from well-known figures like Jesus Christ or Paul the Apostle to lesser-known individuals like Ruth or Nehemiah.
Overall, character sermons serve as a reminder that the Bible and history are filled with examples of individuals who demonstrated faith, courage, and virtue in the face of adversity. By studying and emulating these individuals, listeners can strengthen their own faith and character, and become better equipped to face the challenges of life.
Expository sermons are often referred to as the best way to preach a message because it usually incorporates all other styles listed and it stays true to the message of the text. Expository messages are usually the most challenging for both the preacher and the congregation and the goal of this type of sermon is to provide a clear understanding of what the text is saying, and to help the congregation apply the text to their lives.
Expository sermons typically follow a specific structure, often referred to as the “expository method”. This method involves several steps, including:
- Selection of a text: The preacher chooses a specific passage of scripture to expound upon.
- Contextualization: The preacher provides background information about the passage, including the author, audience, and historical context.
- Interpretation: The preacher delves into the meaning of the text, examining the original language, historical context, and cultural significance.
- Application: The preacher helps the congregation apply the message of the text to their own lives, drawing out relevant principles and practical implications.
Overall, expository sermons can be a powerful tool for spiritual growth and biblical understanding. By focusing on the text itself and providing a clear, practical application, preachers can help their congregations develop a deeper appreciation for scripture and its relevance to their daily lives.
While there are many different types of sermons, each with its own unique purpose and structure, they all share the common goal of helping listeners understand and apply biblical principles to their lives. Whether it is a textual sermon, a topical sermon, a narrative sermon, a thematic sermon, a historical sermon, a character sermon, or an expository sermon, preachers strive to deliver a message that resonates with the congregation and helps them connect more deeply with God. By understanding the different types of sermons, we can appreciate the depth and richness of the Christian tradition and find inspiration for our own spiritual journeys.