les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Expository preaching

OK. Here we go.

I began pastoral ministry in 1991as an assistant pastor in a church where preaching was consecutive, systematic and expository. Thus it was that the first Sunday I preached my passage was Mark 6:14-29, the beheading of John the Baptist. I say this just to establish that I am used to the expository method. I've never been subjected to some of the horror stories that go around, of sermons on the triumphal entry from the point of view of the donkey, the identification of the stones David had for his sling, etc. I am deeply committed to preaching the Bible and by systematic consecutive exposition. Which simply means taking a passage and explaining what it meant for the first hearers, what it means in the context of the whole Bible and what it means for those who hear today.


However, I am more than a little bothered at the moment, for the following reasons.

1) Systematic consecutive exposition of the Scriptures is not a magic method. The power does not lie in the technique or in the method applied. If we get it right, that does not automatically make it a good sermon or an effective sermon. And if we get it wrong, that does not mean the opposite. In short, we cannot rely on a method, we always have to rely on the Holy Spirit.

That's number 1.

2) We risk absolutising systematic consecutive exposition of the Sciptures.

Every now and again preachers ask, "When was the last time you heard a sermon on hell?"
Well excuse me, but we don't preach on topics do we. We preach systematic consecutive exposition of the scriptures, which means we'll never preach on hell, but we will preach on passages where Jesus teaches about hell, for example.
Now then, does that mean that it is impossible to preach on the topic of hell?
That it is wrong to preach a series on Christian basics, or family life, or whatever?
Can we say that the only type of preaching envisaged in the Bible is systematic consecutive exposition, or is preaching sometimes broader than that?
I think it is dangerous to make absolutes that are not given to us directly in scripture.

3) Preaching like a good rabbi.

Every sermon needs to have Christ at its centre. That means that we have not done our work properly if we preach a passage from the Old Testament and show how its warnings, hopes, desires, promises, its whole trajectory find their full accomplishment in Jesus. "We can always trust God" isn't christian. We have to show that "We can always trust God in Christ."

4) Not seeing the wood for the trees

You don't necessarily get at the point of a passage by talking about every detail verse by verse. And sometimes, even if you do state the point of the passage, it gets lost in detail that is entirely appropriate for reading, but not when you are trying to preach.

5) Directness

Preaching has to be direct. It's you, the preacher, speaking about very important things to your hearers. We mustn't lose in directness because we are slowly marching step by step, verse by verse, through a passage.

I'll probably add to this post.

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