Is Expository Preaching Bad?
When I think of the negative ideas about expository preaching, I usually think of statements like: “its boring” “its dry” “its too complicated” “I don’t care about the freakin greek.” Maybe you have heard statements like these. I think the problem is that there isn’t a universal definition for “expository preaching.” A friend of mine, Jonathan Bradley, says expository preaching is simply being faithful to the text. If we take that as a definition, I don’t think any serious person would deny it as wrong or bad. Nevertheless, lets look at this idea of it being bad or wrong.
Expository Preaching Complaints
Not every scripture warrants a sermon
- When you think of this complaint, you may think of someone like Jonny Mac, who I believe preached for 20 years through the New Testament. As a preacher, I do find it a struggle and honestly unnecessary to preach every.single.verse. I tend to think that some scriptures are not for the Sunday gathering. Some expositors will preach it even it is the most opaque scripture ever (how dare I call the Word opaque!) I would like to hear someone else’s opinion on this idea of scriptures that maybe don’t deserve a preaching emphasis.
It does not provide answers or relate to every day life
- This may be a fair complaint as we drudge through Leviticus perhaps. There is a certain section of of Judges that I’d rather not preach through. It is all negative, destructive, heart breaking, etc. Maybe Song of Solomon isn’t meant to preached through on a Sunday, I mean certainly not when the kids are upstairs. There is one expository preacher who seemed to kill it with this approach (*coughs Driscoll).
Expository preaching is like one preaching through a commentary
- This may fall on the preacher, many of us have been guilty of this. Telling the people everything we know about the subject, instead of what they need to know. I mean we may have told them several original language deals, we may have gotten lost in the sauce of supporting scriptures, quoted too many theologians.
Common Reasons Why Some Don’t Like Expository Preaching
Reference from 9Marks Journal
They are not interested in expository preaching.
Most non-Christians are rarely eager to receive God’s infallible Word. The meat and vegetables of expositional preaching will do us much more spiritual benefit, yet even Christians who attend church occasionally have weak spiritual appetites, much like kids who just want junk food. Perhaps because we haven’t had a solid diet, we don’t like expositional preaching.
Expository preaching is overly authoritative.
This is what God says, expositional preaching declares. What it signifies for your life is as follows. We disagree with that. Since Adam and Eve, we have desired to conceal our sin and behave as though we are gods. Apart from God, we have attempted to explain ourselves. All of this is prohibited by expositional preaching because it authoritatively reveals what God says to us in his Word, which reveals the desires and motivations of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).
Expository preaching is unimportant.
Sometimes we can assume a book that is centuries old cannot be pertinent to current issues. We tend to forget that nothing new has been created (Ecclesiastes 1:1) and that our greatest issues and their resolution have remained constant since the Fall: we are sinners who are under condemnation before a holy God, but God has graciously provided a way for us to be saved by sending his Son into the world to live and die in our place. The most crucial aspects of who we are remain constant throughout time and space, and expositional preaching will cover all of these topics since they are found in the Bible. Thus it is relevant to exposit in church.
It’s overly cerebral,
Expositional preaching is sometimes criticized as being exclusive to intellectuals. Expositional preaching should be understandable because it only explains and applies the Scriptures, which even a toddler can grasp, in contrast to certain preachers who may be difficult for anybody to understand (2 Tim. 3:15). Remember that the book of Hebrews itself is regarded by many scholars as a sermon. What a challenging sermon that was! It can be a mistake many young preachers make as they read many sources and are eager to get them out.
They have experienced poor expository preaching.
Just like there are awful topical and story preachers, there are bad expositional preachers. Expositional preaching, however, ought to be anything but dull and lifeless. What could be more captivating than hearing what God has to say to you and seeing it apply to your life specifically? Preaching from an expositional perspective ought to be engaging, intimate, and practical. It is not fully expositional if it is not. I pray your church has an equipped and annointed expository preacher.