A sermon is a message delivered by a member of the clergy to a congregation of believers. The three most common sermons are textual, expository or topical. Textual sermons use a passage of Scripture as the basis of the message jumping-off point. Expository sermons follow a book of the Bible in order, and each chapter determines the thesis for the sermon. Topical sermons cover a single topic. Many contemporary pastors prefer using a topical sermon to teach.
Topical sermons are based on a single subject, like "How to love your neighbor" and the thesis of the sermon is derived from the subject and supported by scripture. A preacher chooses a thesis and selects scripture to support it, much like a research paper. Topical sermons give the preacher flexibility in his teaching. There might be an epidemic of gossiping in a church, so the pastor chooses to preach on the sin of gossip, using Bible scripture as proof that gossiping is harmful.
Topical sermons can allow a preacher to cover a Biblical subject completely. Many preachers use topical sermons in a series format so they can cover the topic over many weeks or months. Most of the favorite television preachers teach using the topical method, so it has become an easily recognizable and comfortable format to learn the Bible. Many of the largest churches in the U.S. use topical sermons to educate their congregations on subject matters that apply directly to them.
Many from the traditional clergy do not like topical preaching. They feel that topical sermons give too much leeway for a preacher to manipulate scripture to fit a message that stems from his own prejudices or preferences rather than preaching by the leading of God. Even if a pastor sticks closely to the Bible, there are only so many topics he can cover, so this method can be limiting over the long term.
Kinds of Topics
The Bible addresses nearly every possible situation a person can go through, from poverty to wealth or love to hate, the Bible has scripture that deals with each subject. The scriptures also reveal God's purpose for man and woman. A preacher who takes inspiration from scripture can construct a sermon that appeals to and affects everyone who hears the sermon. Sermon topics can vary from relationship issues, like "How to be a good spouse" to deeper spiritual topics like "Leading an abundant life." If a preacher is in tune with his congregation and the leading of God, he will find the right topic to reach the hearts and minds of his congregation.
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