You may remember the answer a young preacher gave when asked to describe his preaching style. The nervous pastor rose to his feet, swallowed hard, and replied: “There are two types of preaching: the first is topical . . . and the second is . . . suppository!”
As a pastor, you know better than most how tough it is to state in succinct and precise terms what we mean by “expository preaching.” I was recently asked to provide a definition. Not an easy assignment! I checked about five fairly reliable sources and found that their definitions were either too long, too convoluted, or just plain inaccurate! So, I decided to start from scratch and hammer out one on my own. Two hours later, I came up with this.
Expository preaching is the proclamation of holy Scripture delivered for the purpose of enabling others to understand what God has written, why that is important, and how it relates to one’s personal life.
- Understanding what God has written requires the expositor to be accurate in both preparation and delivery of the Scriptures, so that the Bible is allowed to speak for itself.
- Understanding why God’s Word is important calls for the expositor to be passionate in communicating the truth, so that the one receiving the message is compelled to listen and eager to respond.
- Understanding how that message relates to life means that the expositor uses terms that are clear, delivers the message in ways that connect with needs, and applies it so specifically the hearer realizes the relevance of God’s Word and the necessity of aligning his/her life to it.
There’s nothing inspired about this definition. But I did find that the process of thinking through it reignited my passion for expository preaching.
Let me urge you to do some original work in the Scriptures, to mull through the biblical mandates of a pastor, and to craft your own working definition. I believe the process will help you as a preacher . . . and also provide a standard to evaluate your messages.
What do you think? How would you define expository preaching? You can tell me by clicking here.