In terms of sermon practices, there are only really four types:
1) The Liturgical Calendar: Practiced mostly by Catholics and some mainline Protestant denominations, this is where the message (sermon or homily) corresponds to the reading of the day as determined by the liturgical calendar. Advantage: One always has a ready reference for the sermon. Disadvantage: Some of the liturgical readings do not adapt well to sermons ("As we discuss the sacrifices for sin in Leviticus, let us discuss the meaning of wheat...").
2) The Book: Probably more practiced by independents and non-denominationals than others, this is a study of an entire book, verse by verse. Advantage: One comes to completely understand the book of the sermon. Disadvantage: The longer books can take forever ("Week 75: We have entered into the second half of Acts. I know more Koine Greek than my entire social network...")
3) The Series: Can be shared across both denominational and non-denominational in which a theme is chosen and readings are selected or adapted to meet the point of message. Advantage: A topical series can be a useful tool of study. Disadvantage: A topical series can reflect the current world instead of the timeless Word. ("Today friends, let us discuss the Jezebels of the modern eras and the evils of bell bottoms and 'The Disco Dance'...)
4) The One Off: Used by both denominational and non-denominational, this reflects one of two events: either something so serious it needs to be discussed "right now" or someone senior is leaving. Advantage: They only ever happen once for each subject. Disadvantage: Sometimes the choice of a one off is more related to the speaker's opinion than to an actual Scriptural need ("It is critical that we break with the series we have been on to discuss the deforestation resulting in harm to the Marmot - or as I like to call them, 'God's Little Clowns'...").
As you might be able to tell, I have listened to one or two of all of these over my life.
The church we currently attend falls squarely in number Three, "The Series". These are usually 6 to 10 weeks, and seem to cover whatever the Pastor chooses as the subject of choice. . I always pay attention especially at the opening of these series, because at least at this church I have learned that the sermons they choose largely reflect some need they think they see.
I have already had my ears slightly on alert this year because since the beginning of the year, there have been a great many sermons on the subject of "unity". Unity of the church between different members, different ages, different cultures. Two years ago we could not get enough of talking about differences and how the church effectively needed to be a counter-voice; that has all been effaced by an apparent need to come together.
There was a particular line that stuck out in the sermon: The pastor freely admitted that in the past they had concentrated on differences - but times had changed, he said, and now they needed to concentrate on something else - on unity, on how the Church can be and serve together.
What had changed, I wondered as I continued to listen. Surely what we are living in today is exactly the sort of thing that had been espoused for the last two years. The individual is paramount and all that is old is essentially forbidden by common sense and good taste. This is the brave new world that has been preached, is it not?
There comes a moment when events become so evident to all - even the most dyed in the wool believers - that they can see that what they had asked for is not what they have gotten at all. It is the moment when the revolutionaries realize that they are hoist on their own petard by their brethren who, it turns out, used them only to gain power and has no further use for them. It is the moment when the co-religionists who sought to reframe their religion realize their allies thought to destroy it entirely. It is the moment when those that called for a little suddenly realized they received far more than what they were asking for in a way they did not ask for.
Could the work be undone? Possibly. It is possible for the revolutionary to become a counter-revolutionary, for the apostate to become orthodox, for those asking a little to return the a lot and make do. But this is all prefaced by a need for humility, the ability to accept - publicly - that their previous path was not the correct one.
Almost no-one does, of course. For revolutionaries and a little askers, it is perhaps not surprising. For the Church, who now constantly seems to be in a need to ask forgiveness of almost everyone excepts its adherents, it seems very surprising.
We preach humility. We preach repentance. But if it cannot be practiced in all situations, not just the ones the Church finds convenient, we truly are no better than the World - in face, we are exactly like them.
For years, heads wiser than mine have warned about the Church seeking to be like the culture so much that it would become the culture. Sadly, we seem to have arrived.