I believe in expository preaching. I don’t think we should slavishly stick to one approach at all times, there are contexts when I think it is right to pick up on a theme, topic or character however, I believe that the primary content of our preaching diet should be expository. By this I mean that the preacher’s responsibility is to take the test and expound on it showing what it is saying and applying it to the congregation.
However, there is the risk that we can think we are doing expository preaching when we are not. Glen Scrivener makes the point far better than I can with humour and poetry here:
I want to suggest that it is not expository preaching if:
- I simply meander verse by verse through the passage, alighting on each phrase and making comment but missing the wood for the trees. As I read a Bible passage I should see that it progresses, that it has a central theme/application and that this should come home strongly. If I’m so focused on going verse by verse that I fail to see the logic of the argument or I am intent on dividing the narrative into three neat alliterating points that I quite literally lose the plot then I’ve failed.
- I allow my preaching to be shaped and determined by a particular systematic or Biblical theological framework that I find myself preaching the frame rather than the passage.
- I don’t apply it properly. This happens when I fail to apply at all and end up giving a technical lecture. It also happens when I get the application wrong and when I deal in generalities and niceties. However, ti can also happen when I make the wrong application for the people gathered. If in effect I use Scripture to encourage abusers or condemn victims then I suspect something has gone wrong. This is why it is important to exegete Scripture, congregation and preacher before preaching.