Take a moment and think about the different types of sermons you have heard preached over the course of your life. Different styles. Different approaches to handling the text. Different preacher personalities. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably listened to many different types of preaching. While hopefully you have been blessed to sit under strong, expositional, God-centered, Christ-focused, Spirit-empowered, preaching, I'm guessing you have listened to preaching that was not marked by these things as well. I know I have.
Among others, let me share five types of sermons I have sat under in my life...five types of sermons I would say fall short of the kind of preaching God desires for His Church, for His people. See if you resonate with my experience of the following...
#1. The “I want to show you how creative and clever I am” sermon.
Typically, this sermon is preached by a guy who is pretty unique and desires for people to see him as just that. He is creative, he is clever, and he is outside the box, which is right where he wants to be. This sermon aims at getting the listener to think in new and original ways about Jesus and the Bible. Many come to hear this kind of sermon simply for the unpredictable and entertaining nature of it.
#2. The “I want to be real and authentic and vulnerable at all costs” sermon.
This sermon is preached by the guy who believes the most important thing about a sermon is being “real” with his audience. Sharing in detail his struggles with private sin, disclosing personal and private information about his marriage, and using illustrations that are attention-grabbing but completely inappropriate tend to mark this type of preaching. Some think this kind of authenticity in a sermon is “cool.” Others cannot help but cringe throughout.
#3. The “I am passionate about biblical and systematic theology and you should be too” sermon.
Often those fresh out of seminary are fired up about all they have learned about biblical and systematic theology and they rightfully desire to teach these truths to their congregation. This is a good thing! Unfortunately, it is common for some preachers to use the pulpit as their primary teaching platform to share these “lectures” with the congregation in the weekly worship gathering. Better suited for a classroom environment, this type of preaching struggles to connect with most hearers.
#4. The “I love to make the Bible practical for people without actually explaining to them what it means” sermon.
The Bible is incredibly practical, no question. The problem is that in this type of sermon the preacher too quickly jumps to application without first taking the time needed to rightly explain and exegete the passage. These types of sermons are viewed by many as incredibly helpful for everyday life. However, over time, this type of preaching fails to root listeners deeply into a mature, biblical and theological understanding of the very truths the preacher is seeking to apply.
#5. The “I want to inspire you to live the purposeful, prosperous, victorious life you deserve” sermon.
This kind of sermon is all about helping the listener to believe in themselves and to believe that God wants to give them the best life this world has to offer. This preacher is a motivator, seeking to inspire people to be all that they can be. No need to get caught up in talking about the ugliness of sin or the horrors of hell, let’s keep things light, fun and positive! That is the aim of this type of sermon. As you can imagine, there are many who love to sit under this kind of preaching as it promises what people think they most want and need: A pain-free, exciting, “me-centered” life!
While I am exaggerating a bit about these different types of sermons, to be honest, sadly, my descriptions are fairly accurate. Perhaps you have listened to similar sermons in your life. The truth is, God's people need to be fed good food from God's Word that comes through the weekly diet of faithful, expositional preaching.
We would be wise to remember the truth-filled words of Steven Lawson when he writes...
I strongly believe that no church can rise any higher than its pulpit. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. The deeper the preacher takes his flock into the Word of God, the higher they will rise in worship.