“I am a BIBLE PREACHER!” These were the words spoken to me by a colleague. The discussion was on preaching and what our approach should be in today’s culture. There is much debate about how we should share the good news in the sacred moment of preaching. Style and substance matters! I hope to share a few effective sermonic styles in the next few paragraphs. One thing to note is that choosing a style for the sermon does not matter if that style is not in the authentic sermonic personality of the preacher. For the sake of clarity, I am proposing styles that are rooted in and supported by scripture.
One of the most effective styles of preaching is the expository sermon. These are sermons that are grounded in the biblical text and allow the biblical text to provide the theme and structure of the sermon. This is usually done with a verse by verse approach to explaining the meaning of the text, lifting the author’s intent through a contemporary applicable lens. This is the primary way I like to stylistically present my sermons in my pastoral context. The advantages of expository sermons is that it promotes solid biblical understanding in a biblically illiterate culture and it also forces the preacher to stay focused since the entire sermon is built on one text with one theme.
Another style of preaching is the topical sermon. These are sermons that use many scriptures from different parts of the Bible to give a more comprehensive teaching of a topic. The topic and not the text is the driving source of the sermon. This structure of the sermon in this method is crafted together by preacher through the rhetorical and intellectual possibilities of the subject in accordance with the Bible. I have used this style in approaching such topics as stewardship and relationships. The advantages of this style of sermonizing is that it gives room for more creativity in the preaching moment and produce a library of full treatment of any subject.
The third style of sermonic preaching is the biographical or first-person sermon. This style focuses on a Bible character. It is typically the aim of these types of sermons that highlights the successes and failures of a character and what lessons can be gleaned. I have found this style effective in adding some diversity to sermonic proclamation. We have a lot of people in our contexts who like to visualize a sermon. This style creates imagery in a unique way, by placing the hearer in the shoes of the biblical character. The advantages of this style of preaching is that it enriches the creative imagination of the preacher and can also incorporate the different aspects of visual stimuli like props to enhance sermonic comprehension and retention.
These are just a few sermonic styles. I could have extended the list to include textual, historical incident, and narrative, to name a few. Whichever style you decide to employ, the key is to be true to yourself and the text. God has graced each preacher with their own uniqueness and homiletical tendencies. I encourage each preacher to try different styles in order to grow as a communicator within your context. We should put message over methodology. Growth takes in the crucible of experimentation. Now go PREACH!
Charles Goodman is the Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia.