I’m thankful for the 10 reasons for expository preaching listed by HB Charles Jr. Though I am committed to expository preaching through successive biblical texts as the norm for our church, it is all too easy to forget the reasons why, and to just assume the practice without thought to the reason.
In particular, one item on Charles’ list stuck out to me:
Expository preaching addresses the needs of the people which never occur to the preacher
I simply cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this. Almost invariably, when someone feels that something in particular in a sermon is ‘for them’, it is not something I knew was going on in their life. It was not a need I was aware of now. But it is a need that God knew of so long ago when he inspired the text and ordained for me to preach it on this particular Sunday.
Viewed from that perspective, of knowing the needs of human hearts, we actually begin to see something of the audacity of not habitually preaching expository messages. Preaching topically, or as I see fit, actually places more faith in my ability to assess the needs of our people than it does in the sufficiency of the revealed word and will of God.
Expository preaching forces us to preach on topics and texts that we would never choose. Expository preaching forces us to be controlled in what we talk about next.
If the medium does indeed convey the message, then expository preaching in and of itself serves both the preacher and the people well in that it says: ‘This man is being told what to talk about; he is not the one who knows what we need.’ It militates against the projection of the false image of the pastor as the one who is ultimately setting the vision for the church. If the vision for the church is biblical, people will see it as it is drawn out from the word, rather than created in the mind of the ‘visionary’ pastor.
Can I also just add this? Expository preaching takes so much pressure off the preacher! I don’t have to worry about deciding what to say next. I don’t need to be constantly fretting over the question, ‘What do our people need to hear?’ All I need to do is say what the text says.
Even when it comes to the selection of a book to preach, I can rest assured knowing that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful. As long as I’m preaching the Bible, I’m preaching what our people need to hear in order to be equipped. What a blessed relief!
So who says what I say? And who gets to determine what our people need to hear? God already said that a long time ago I just need to keep repeating it.