5 Types of Sermons That Fall Short

5 Types of Sermons That Fall Short

By Mark Hallock

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you probably have listened to many different types of preaching. Take a moment and think about the different types of sermons you have heard. Different styles. Different approaches to handling the text. Different preacher personalities. 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.

Let me share five types of sermons I have sat under in my life that 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. “I want to show you how creative and clever I am”

Typically, this sermon is preached by a guy who is pretty unique and wants people to see him as just that. He is creative, clever and outside the box – which is right where he wants to be. This sermon aims to get the listener thinking 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. “I want to be real, authentic and vulnerable at all costs”

This sermon is preached by the guy who believes the most important thing about a sermon is being “real” with his audience. This type of preaching tends to be marked by sharing in detail his struggles with private sin, disclosing personal and private information about his marriage and using completely inappropriate but attention-grabbing illustrations. Some think this kind of authenticity in a sermon is “cool.” Others cannot help but cringe throughout.

3. “I am passionate about biblical and systematic theology and you should be too”

Often preachers fresh out of seminary are fired up about all they have learned in biblical and systematic theology classes. 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. Most hearers struggle to connect with this type of preaching, which is better suited for a classroom environment.

4. “I love to make the Bible practical for people without actually explaining what it means”

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. “I want to inspire you to live the purposeful, prosperous, victorious life you deserve”

This kind of sermon is all about helping listeners 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 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! As you can imagine, many people 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, my descriptions, sadly, 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 through a weekly diet of faithful, expositional preaching.

We would be wise to remember these truth-filled words of Steven Lawson: “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.”

This post originally appeared at Mark’s blog.

Published April 12, 2023

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Mark Hallock

Mark Hallock serves as the lead pastor of Calvary Church in Englewood, Colorado. He also serves as president of the Calvary Family of Churches, a group committed to planting and replanting churches for the glory of God (thecalvary.org). His great desire is to see the gospel transform lives and neighborhoods through the planting of new congregations, along with the revitalization of declining congregations, throughout the city of Denver and beyond. Mark’s favorite hobby is hanging out with his wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Zoe and Eli.