In his book, The Craft of the Sermon, the noted Methodist preacher W.E. Sangster offered the following analysis of sermon types:_
1. According to subject matter
Biblical interpretation: gives authority to the spoken word; provides endless material for the preacher; guards against the preacher’s own bias; encourages the people to read the Bible for themselves’ prevents evasion of the difficult.
- Ethical and devotional
- Philosophic and apologetic
2. According to structural type
Exposition: single text; multiple texts [can ask and answer questions, eg, ‘What is man?’ – Psa 8:4 w Rom 8:16; can be used to bring out a contrast, eg ‘Two ways of being dead but not buried’ – Col 2:20 w Eph 2:1; can indicate a problem and its solution, eg Lk 21:25 w Jn 14:27; can show several aspects of a truth, eg Gal 6:5 w 6:2 w Psa 55:22; can portray progression of thought, eg ‘Judgement on Jesus’, Jn 10:20; 7:12; Mt 16:16; Jn 20:28]; broken texts, eg ‘If…we ought’, 1 Jn 4:11; ‘…but if not…’, Dan 3:17; a passage; a book; a biography; a picture.
Argument: deductive or inductive.
Faceting: by origins (‘The cause of this is…’); by consequences (‘The fruit of this is…’); by implications (‘This requires that…’); by concrete instances (‘This is shown by…’); by eliminating false likenesses (‘This isn’t that…or that’); by the means to an end (‘This is the way to…’).
Categorising: under the person to whom the message is addressed [an evangelical appeal to various ages or classes; a discussion of love in relation to God, my neighbour…; a social sermon involving different classes]; under enlarging areas of application: individual, society…; under different elements in personality: thought, feeling…; under varying periods in time: past, present, future; under different ways in which a situation can be met: eg Ex 14 – ‘Go back; stand still; go forward’.
Analogy: eg ‘Life as a voyage’; ‘The Church as a body’.
3. According to psychological method
Authoritative; persuasive; co-operative; subversive.
(W.E. Sangster, The Craft of the Sermon, adapted)
Comment: I find this analysis quite illuminating, and it does suggest different approaches that might be useful. However, it is also bit too ‘clever’, encouraging the preacher to read his own emphases and forms into the text, rather than deriving them from it.