I for one was "jazzed up" over the workshop on Preaching Plans. I love planning, organization, and administration. God wired me this way! I love details. Although it may not totally true, I live by the axiom, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail."
Having had a time in "the desert" these past few years has given me an extraordinary amount of time to read, reflect, review, and request (pray) about three major concerns:
- My role as a pastor and/or teacher
- What I want the congregation to learn and practice
- How do I actually accomplish # 2
Since the early days in which John MacArthur was "discovered" expository preaching has been steadily gaining popularity in the pulpit. Schools and seminaries have developed extensive courses on expository preaching over the last two or three decades. I for one grew up in an organization or fellowship that was basically committed to "three points and a poem." Expository preaching was unheard of at best and was hated at worst.
Today, the majority of so called "fundamental or evangelical" churches advertise the fact that they teach the Scriptures expositorily. Many churches today have taken to teaching books of the Bible on Sunday morning.
I jumped on the band wagon in the late seventies and early eighties when I began preaching regularly. I developed the idea that the only thing a church should do on Sunday morning was teach through a book of the bible in an expositional manner.
Over the last couple of years of my hiatus from pulpit ministry, I have had some time to visit a number of churches. Unfortunately, I mean a n-u-m-b-e-r of churches. Many of these claimed to be committed to expositional teaching and attempted to teach through various books of the bible on Sunday morning.
I have had time to see four major problems with this process:
- most preachers are really not expositors
- the majority of messages leave out a key element
- the average church member has not profited
- individual believers are not more mature
First, let's give a simple definition of what expository preaching is or at least must include.
Expository preach must first, explain the text by determining the original intent or meaning of the author of the text. An expositor must bridge the cultural, grammatical, geographical, contextual and historical gaps in order to ascertain the original intent of the biblical writer. Second, expository preaching must include the accurate and appropriate application for the twenty-first century listener. In other words, after the text has been clearly explained it must be accurately applied to today's church member.
Second, most men who claim to be expositors really are providing a running commentary on the text. They are at times adept at explaining words, terms, or even events, but many times they fail at arriving at the original intent of the author. They also either fail to make an accurate application or they don't make an application at all. Many men are good "explainers" but they are poor "appliers."
There is nothing I detest more than after hearing a message, the preacher stops and says, "Let's pray." At best I think he is hoping that the Holy Spirit will finish his job and make application for him. A key element of expository preaching is making applicable application and exhortation once the true meaning of the text has been found.
Third, the average church member does not seem to benefit from this approach. We have become adept at warehousing people on Sunday mornings and teaching facts. I think that is the problem. We have taught a lot of facts. The average church member may have a lot of knowledge but they don't know what to do with that knowledge.
Tomorrow I will share with you, Lord willing, a different approach towards teaching the people of God. Stay tune!