Popular Sermon Approaches

New Preachers: Ever Wonder how many types of sermons there are?

Sermons…We love them, I mean, that is why we have a website called Sermon Transcripts.  We’ve all experienced it, sitting on that pew.  The saints around.  The tempo.  The conviction of the Holy Spirit.  The varied decibels.  The feeling that God is speaking to His church.  God is speaking…

The picture each one of gets in our mind’s eye is different, whether your mind went to a man in a suit, ripped jeans, cool hair cut, big reformed beard, towel.  You get the point.  It all has to do with our unique worldview of preaching.  Within all of the differences the part we want to hone in on today is the idea of sermon construction.  For there are many types of sermons or ways a sermon can be constructed.

I want to go over some of the main ways and also use a text to illustrate.  As my pastor says, “lets jump in!”

Expository Sermons

Here is the simplest way to state it: an expository sermon makes the main point of the particular text the main point of the sermon.  Further stated, the expository sermon will take into account the surrounding text and work within the same theme.  There is little need for creativity, the text stands on its own providing the main idea and the sub points.  

Often expository preaching pairs with reformed guys with big beards 🙂  Its become quite popular in reformed circles, but also in fundamental circles around MacCarthur.  Some think expository preaching is bad.


Popular expositors: John Piper (my favorite), Mark Dever, John Macarthur, H B Charles, Matt Chandler


Topical Sermonsboo about choosing sermon styles

The long and the short: a topical sermon starts with a topic as the main point, then it chooses other scriptures as subpoints to hammer the topic down.  The topical sermon may or may not have a main text, instead it uses the whole bible as its canvas to paint the topic.

This is probably the go to sermon type for mega church pastors.  It really allows for creativity.  I am trying hard not to throw shade at topical preaching, but it lends itself quite easily to bad theology IMO.

Popular topical preachers: Steven Furtick, Elder DJ Ward


Textual Sermons

The topical sermon starts with a text and then chooses sub points that may or may not be present in the text.  This often looks like, choose a text and here are my 3 points.

This is probably the most common type of sermon you will hear.  I would say the majority of bible believing Jesus loving normative pastors preach in this style.

Popular textual preachers: T D Jakes


Preaching Examples of Expository vs Topical vs Textual: 

Lets use the most iconic verse in the New Testament, John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Expository Sermon Outline:

Main Point- Because God loves the world, He gave us His son to bring us from death to life.

  1. God loves the world
  2. God gave His Son
  3. We were Dead in our sins
  4. If we believe He gives us life

Notice how all the points are directly from the text


Topical Sermon Outline:

Main Point- Faith and belief is absolutely necessary for Christians

  1. We become Christians by faith
  2. We can live holy lives by faith
  3. We can move mountains by faith

Notice how a piece of the truth is isolated and the points are in support of it, even though they aren’t necessarily found in the main text.


Textual Sermon Outline: 

Main Point- Because God loves the world, He gave us His son to bring us from death to life.

  1. God loved us before the foundation of the World
  2. Not just ordinary love, but “So loved”
  3. The World needs God’s love

The textual sermon is like a hybrid between expository and topical.  It takes it points from the main text, but it doesn’t necessarily make the main point of the text the main point of the sermon.

To learn more about these 3 types of sermons and additional sermon approaches, check out this book by Kenton Anderson.


bibles sermon prep

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