The Pitfalls and the Promise of Expository Preaching (2 of 3)

Sometimes our favorite preachers do not make the best homiletical models. And sometimes those most committed to expository preaching do not actually exposit the text.

Derek Thomas mentions four sermon types that fail to “display what is there.”

1. The “I want to tell you what is on my heart” sermon. The message may start with a text and end with a bang, but the preacher’s concerns come through more clearly than the passage’s concerns. The exposition is full of passion without precision. It’s “earnest but effervescent, relevant but un-related.” Even if the content is true, people are learning to treat the text carelessly and casually.

2. The “I have been reading Berkhof’s Systematic Theology” sermon. Instead of asking “What was the author’s original intent?” or asking God, “What do you want to say to your people?” we ask “What doctrine does this passage teach?” The result is that sermons get defensive and struggle to handle poetic and narrative genres.

3. The “I have a seminary education and I am determined to let you know that” sermon. These messages interest the intellect but fail to transform the heart or appeal to the affections. There may be much attention to Greek and Hebrew and textual variants, but little attention to connect the text to the lives of the simple and unlearned.

4. The “I am in such a hurry to apply this that you must forgive me for not showing you where I get this from” sermon. The preacher did his homework. It’s all there, but it’s just not where anyone can see it. Listeners feel like they are being lectured at with conclusions they haven’t been led to make on their own.

Tomorrow: Six advantages of consecutive expository preaching.