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Today’s Options in Sermon Form

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Lutheran Church of the Ascension, Atlanta

4000 Roswell Road Northeast

Atlanta, GA 30342

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Course Description

A practical preaching course that presents, theologically critiques, and illustrates a variety of sermon forms available on the contemporary homiletical scene. Forms include several inductive and narrative options, phenomenological preaching, and others.

Dr. Carl Fickenscher

Dr. Carl Fickenscher joined the Concordia Theological Seminary (CTSFW), Fort Wayne, faculty in 1999. He serves as chairman and professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, teaching primarily in the area of homiletics. He also serves as director of Pastoral Formation Programs.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Southern Methodist University in May 1976 and also a Master of Business Administration there in August 1978. After working in business and politics, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from CTSFW in May 1984. Fickenscher pursued his doctoral degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving the Ph.D. in Homiletics from that institution in May 1996, making him the first man in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) to hold a Ph.D. in this field. He is a member of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

Fickenscher is editor of Concordia Pulpit Resources, the Synod’s preaching journal published by Concordia Publishing House (CPH). He has published numerous articles, essays, sermons, and curricular pieces, receiving an award from Concordia Historical Institute in 2012 for a series of articles on the preaching of C. F. W. Walther. He edited CPH’s Faith Alive Bible (a study Bible for youth) and was a theological consultant on the current CPH Sunday School curriculum Growing in Christ.


Allen, Ronald J., ed. Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1998.

Fickenscher, Carl C., II. “The Relationship of Sermon Form to the Communication of the Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel in Lutheran Preaching.” Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1999.

Course Objectives

Through reading, through limited lecture and extensive discussion, and through practical application, the participant will

1. Gain an understanding of why and how throughout Christian history the form of the sermon has developed,

2. Grasp more firmly the importance of sermon form to the complete homiletical task,

3. Become aware of a variety of options in sermon form, including inductive, narrative and phenomenological preaching, while more acutely understanding the dynamics of the traditional deductive form,

4. Identify more clearly the component parts of any sermon form and understand the significance of the parts to the final effectiveness of the whole,

5. Understand that various sermon forms have relative strengths and weaknesses in communicating Law and Gospel in proper distinction, and

6. Sense how sermon form may impact the delivery of the sermon.

Units of Instruction

I. Why Even Think about Sermon Form?

II. The Deductive Form

III. Inductive Preaching

IV. Narrative Preaching: The Pure Story Form

V. Narrative Preaching: The Homiletical Plot Form

VI. The Phenomenological Move Form

Pre-class Assignments

1. READING (to the extent and depth the participant chooses) of the Allen and Fickenscher texts.

2. SELECTION, after at least scanning the texts, of one sermon (in full manuscript) to be shared with the class as an example of sermon form. The sermon may demonstrate one of the options to be discussed in the course, or it may be a sermon for which the participant has no identifiable form in mind. It is anticipated that this sermon will be one the participant has previously prepared and delivered in a congregational setting. (That is, no one is expected to prepare a new sermon for this assignment.) As time permits, one or more class members will have opportunity to preach their sermon to the group.

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Lutheran Church of the Ascension, Atlanta

4000 Roswell Road Northeast

Atlanta, GA 30342

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