Right Preaching - The Need #1
Aaron J. Dodson
Generally speaking there are three types of sermons: Topical, Textual and Expository. The most popular and probably the most used of these is the topical sermon. Unfortunately this is the most dangerous of the three types of sermons. What is a topical sermon? Usually a topical sermon is when the speaker/preacher thinks of a thought/topic and then goes to the Bible to find that particular thought/topic. If the preacher is not careful, the Bible becomes a “jumping off place.” They start with a particular verse and then go from place to place in the Bible to “prove” their point. To be truthful, this style is often preaching about the Bible not preaching the Bible. The great danger with this type of preaching is imposition on the text; putting things in the Bible that are not there to begin with. This is easy to do seeing that we live 2,000 years removed from the events of the New Testament books. We first must try to understand the books of the Bible in their context and then make an application to our day and time. The topical sermon is most common among “TV evangelist,” where, intended or not, they take a verse of Scripture or two out of it’s context and make it say things to people today that God did not intent. However, a topical sermon does not have to be completely bad given that the preacher/speaker makes sure that verses that he presents are true to their context (More will be said about this at a future time).
The second most popular type of sermon is a textual sermon. This can be a good approach, but again, as with the topical sermon, it often turns into an imposition on the text. A textual sermon is characterized by the use of one or two verses but again, perhaps with little to no consideration being given to the context and historical background. Neither of these types of sermons is the best way in my judgment.
The third type of sermon is an expository sermon. Before we consider what an expository sermon is in detail, let’s identify what right preaching is not. Right preaching is not:
(2) an essay
(3) a theological discourse
(4) a running commentary
(5) exegesis [this is done in personal study]
(6) a homily [read through and talk about it as you read it]
(7) necessarily structured by three points
(8) an alliterated outline
(9) Seeker sensitive preaching [begins w/a felt need, not with the Bible]
(10) Improvisational preaching [casual, laid back where the preacher is the actor and the message is the script]
(11) Imaginative preaching [Beyond the Scripture like Rob Bell]
(12) Positive thinking preaching [Robert Shuller and Joel Olsteen]
(13) Culture Driven preaching [D. James Kennedy and Jeremiah Wright]
(14) Just moralistic sermons [No exegesis, just application; just alist of do’s and don’ts]
(15) Psychological preaching [Syndromes and complexes; No theology, it’s theory]
(16) Narrative [Long emotional content, personal stories with no propositional truth]
(17) Text spring boarding [Something you hear at the beginning but never hear again, where the text is not handled nor explained]
(18) Data Dumping preaching [Where sermon becomes a lecture of disconnected thoughts, a digest of word studies, no challenge, appeal, passion or summons]
(19) Decision-istic preaching [John 3:16 every Sunday, 20 minute sermon with 20 minute invitation just to get someone to walk the isle].
What then is right preaching? It’s “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Simply put, right preaching is to preach the word of God, nothing more, nothing less. The expository sermon is the most effective way to relay the word of God in the way God gave it. Stay tuned for more regarding expository preaching.