Why Expository Preaching?

We have no shortage of preaching formulas on our bookshelves and pervading the blogosphere. And here I am, adding my own two cents worth to the subject. It’s the AMEN affect! These four items should be (must be) in place as you prepare and preach the Word!Before, I get into this, allow me to expand on what I mean about preaching–I mean, expository preaching. But first, a story. 

During a hospital visit a few years, I happened to run into another pastor whom I met through my parents some time back. He is a retired pastor who preaches on an interim basis in various churches who are in-between pastors. I, being relatively young in the ministry, would spend more time listening to this man than I would talking. 

The conversation turned when he asked me where I was serving and in what other endeavors I was engaged. I told him, adding that I was ready to finish up seminary work. “Oh! What are you working toward?” I replied, “A DMin in the field of Expository Preaching.” “Expository preaching? What exactly is that?” I explained briefly that it is a type of preaching that takes the theme of the text and makes it the theme of the sermon — exposing the theme, if you will. His response? 

He just looked at me. I continued on that it takes a look at each word of the Scriptures verse-by-verse. I felt he was being rather polite, otherwise I fear he would have questioned whether such a style of preaching was helpful. 

Many question the necessity of expository preaching. It sounds dry, dusty, academic, and irrelevant. With people trying to keep marriages together, raise kids, invest for retirement, pay off bills, and a myriad of other day-to-day issues, why not address these issues rather than going verse-by-verse through a biblical book. Talk about a certain relevant topic! 

Having been in ministry almost 25 years and now going into my ninth year of teaching ministry (youth pastor and pastor), I am now convinced of a number of reasons for preaching in a expositional manner.

  • It models how one should take the text seriously and to study it therein.
  • It forces you (and your listeners) to deal with topics that you would risk avoiding otherwise.
  • It often bypasses “felt needs” and addresses “real needs.”
  • It helps the preacher and the listener see the Bible as a whole rather than simple snippets as prooftexts to support a particular topic.
  • Along with (4), it helps the preacher and the listener see the harmony among the verses, paragraphs, chapters, books, and Testaments and demonstrate the unity of the Scriptures.
  • It models how clear the Scriptures are once studied on the Spirit’s terms rather than our own.
  • It puts Christ on display throughout the Scriptures.
  • It shows how the Scriptures are grounded in history (places, events, times, people).
  • It puts God’s progressive relevation on display, showing God’s work in redemptive history and shows how history is truly HIS-story. 
  • It forces the preacher and the listener to deal with the various literary forms found in the Scriptures (history, narrative, poetry, the epistles, and apocalyptic genres) and, in turn, forces the preacher/listener to understand these genres for correct interpretation and understanding.
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