Preaching is more than just “standing up and talking about the Bible.” While it may look like that to the person sitting in the pew, for the individual standing up behind the pulpit, there is an entire framework driving that particular sermon. In the field of preaching one comes to realize that there are various “models” of preaching. For the purpose of this article, I want to briefly describe 5 preaching models that can be helpful in the process of preaching. Also due to space limitations, I won’t critique these models but simply assume that these models are valid models for expository preaching.
Textual Preaching: This preaching is also called “text-centered” preaching. This model of preaching seeks to explain a stretch of text or a few verses at a time. When most hear the idea of “expository preaching” advocated, this is typically the idea that comes to mind. The message of the text is the main message of the sermon. The late Baptist preacher W.A. Criswell sought to preach this way as he worked through the Bible at First Dallas. Also, contemporary preachers such as John MacArthur utilize this model.
Topical Preaching: This particular model seeks to explain a particular topic from the Bible. In some cases, this approach may be more systematic in nature (drawing from various texts within one particular sermon). While the idea of “topical” preaching has been put on the back burner with the resurgence of expository preaching, there may be times when a topical sermon is needed within a local church. Maybe a sermon series on the biblical truth of God’s Grace may require multiple texts in order to explain the topic as long as the primary topic is grounded in one particular text. Preachers like Matt Chandler and Tim Keller have done a good job in modeling this particular style on various occasions.
Theological Preaching: This model of preaching is, in my opinion, the model of John Piper. This is closely akin to the “plain preaching” of the Puritans. The specific aim of this preaching model is to expound the text with the specific purpose to unfold the theological reality of God. This means that the structure of the text may or may not be utilized in order to develop the sermon. This type of preaching is sometimes “Theocentric Preaching.”
Christ-Centered Preaching: In the last several decades a model of “redemptive-historical” preaching called “Christ-Centered Preaching” has made its way into the forefront of homiletics. Men such as Bryan Chapell and Edmund Clowney advocate this model. The aim is to “preach Christ from all the Scripture.” This particular model implores various methods of typology, thematic themes, and textual nuances in order to preach Christ from any given text.
Text-Driven Preaching: This model of preaching stands in contrast to text centered preaching to the extent that TDP seeks to expound the substance, structure, and spirit of the text. Simply put a text-driven sermon is “re-presenting” the text in a way that is understandable and transformative for the congregation. The entire sermon is informed by every element of the text. Grounded in the linguistic theory of discourse analysis, the text-driven model seeks to logically implore the doctrine of inerrancy to preaching. Many preaching professors within Southern Baptist seminaries have advocated this model but in particular the “Crown Jewel” – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Granted I’m a bit bias because this is the model I primarily implore every time I preach).
Making Good Use of These Models
As one begins to work through these models of preaching, I’m convinced pastors will find the “meat” and spit out the “bones” in order to fully develop their homiletical method. It’s important to realize as well that not every preacher is the same. We are all different and pastor within a specific context. So it is imperative to know that each model can help contribute to one’s overall preaching. The pastor in South Texas won’t preach the same way John MacArthur does nor will the pastor in Montana preach like Bryan Chapell. However one can glean from their models so they can grow into the preacher God wants them to be for His glory.
By reading the books, listening to sermons, and studying these models I believe one would be served well as they grow in their preaching. We cannot remain stagnate in our preaching. If we do our preaching may become boring and dry. We must constantly be honing our craft and sharping our tools to be the most effective preachers we can be.
Michael Cooper is the Pastor of Grace Community Church in Mabank, Texas.