Presbyterians have traditionally considered the Sermon to be the highlight of the worship service. Some even go so far as to judge the quality of the entire service on the basis of the sermon! We believe that God speaks to us through the sermon, just as he speaks to us through the scripture readings. There should always be a solid link between the sermon and at least one of the scripture readings in any given service. Preaching is a time-honored method of communicating a message from God to people orally. It was used by both Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles — and by Jesus himself. Living Faith, our church’s statement of faith, says, in part: “The Holy Spirit enables God’s Word to be heard in the word of preaching. … Preachers must be servants of the Word; those who listen should pray for those who speak. They must be hungry to hear what the Lord has to say. The spoken word is food for all believers.” (Living Faith 7.4)
Two widely-used types of preaching are topical preaching and expository preaching. In topical preaching, the preacher chooses a topic, and then, finding one or more passages of scripture that speak to it, he/she addresses the topic in the light of what the biblical passages say. In expository preaching, the preacher chooses a passage of scripture, and bases the sermon on themes and insights found in that passage. A brief sermon is often called a meditation, a homily, or a reflection.
Similar to the sermon is Theme Time, which is addressed to the children of the congregation. Like the sermon, it is a part of the service in which God speaks to the people through the worship leader. Generally, Theme Time is more interactive than the sermon, and makes use of a visual aid or of some kind of experience in discussing a particular theme. Ideally, the theme of Theme Time should be related to one or more of the scripture readings for the day, and to the theme of the sermon.