Stephen Wright’s Four Sermon Types


Whenever I stumble across new vocabulary for understanding preaching, I’ll continue to share. In Alive to the Word: A Practical Theology of Preaching for the Whole Church (SCM Press, 2010), Stephen Wright names four “types” of preaching:

1. The Liturgical Sermon

  • Definition: “a sermon whose main aim is subordinated to that of the service or worship within which it takes place” (p. 142).
  • It’s “oriented towards the worship of God rather than the edification or persuasion of human beigns. This is not to imply that the other types may not also be worshipful, nor that the liturgical sermon may not also be edifying and persuasive to the congregation. Rather, it is to do with the shared perception that the sermon is but one stage—an important stage, to be sure—in a larger drama” (p. 142).

2. The Teaching Sermon

  • This “may stand more or less along apart from an act of worship, although in practice it is often linked to one. Rather than being seen as an integral part of the worship, it makes an extensive attempt to each some aspect of the Christian faith and its outworking in life” (p. 143).
  • “the aim of teaching is to secure understanding of the doctrinal, ethical and devotional implications involved int hat response of faith’” (p. 143)
  • Two variations on this type: the teaching service (entire act of worship with a “didactic thread”); and the extended coruse of instruction (i.e. catechumenate, mystagogical preaching; number of occasions over several weeks) (p. 144).

3. The Evangelistic Sermon

  • Directed towards the announcement of the gospel to unbelievers with the hope of winning them to faith (p. 144).
  • May also include the apologetic sermon (p. 145)

4. The Street Sermon

  • Like the evangelistic sermon, but conducted outside the safety of the gathering of believers (p.  146).

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