What is the difference between a sermon that is “text-centered” and one that is “text-driven”?

Here is a chart I used at the Jacksonville Pastor’s Conference:

Text-Centered                                                 Text-Driven

Sermon from the text                                    Sermon about the text and derived from it

Sermon based on a text                                Sermon explains meaning of the text

Focus on textual theme                                Focus on textual theme as textually developed

Sermon has a point or points                    Sermon only has as many “points” as the text
usually drawn from the text                      has and are always drawn from the text.

Textual secondary information               Textual secondary information developed
may or may not be developed                   in relation to main point(s)

Sermon structure may be                            Sermon structure is borrowed from the
imposed on the text                                        structure of the text

Application relates to or has some          Application flows directly & exclusively from
connection to the text                                    the text

Primary application may or may not        Primary application derived from the main
be derived from the main point of text     points of the text

Creativity is generally unguided by           Creativity is guided by the genre and textual
the text.                                                                      clues of the text.

Tendency to pick short preaching             Demands a natural paragraph/pericope/
texts for preaching                                             thought unit for a text

May ignore or sideline the author’s           Surrenders to the author’s intended meaning.
intended meaning

Context may be easily overlooked              Context is key to sermon development.

May not adequately express the                 Expresses the substance, structure & spirit
substance, structure, & spirit                      of the text

of the text.

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  1. Spurgeon was an effective preacher and a man I greatly admire however my impression of his generation of preachers was that they most often preached text centered but not text driven sermons. Do you agree?

  2. Thanks Dr. Allen. My experience in the last several years is that there is far too little text driven preaching. As a person who teaches preaching, do you have any thoughts as to why that may be the case in churches in the DFW area, or, for that matter, churches in general in the US? Or, might you not even agree with that thought?


    Blessings, Alan Ernst

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