I preach twice a week. It takes me a very long time to prepare the sermons that I preach and I do not think that is a bad thing. I preach expository messages. That means I take a passage of Scripture (often progressing through a particular book) and I seek to explain to the people what the Biblical author intended when He wrote the passage often doing so verse by verse. I then try to illustrate, argue for, and help people apply the ideas of the Biblical author. I believe that this is the most faithful type of preaching.
I often listen to sermons throughout the week on my phone (usually Matt Chandler, J.D. Greer, and Alistair Begg), and they are all faithful preachers, but it is not the same as hearing God’s Word in real life with God’s people. Recently I got to go to a service and hear another pastor preach. I was excited to hear the Word preached in real life with other believers present! However, shortly after the sermon began I was disappointed because the sermon was topical. That means that the preacher comes up with the main idea (hopefully its a Biblical idea, sometimes its not) and then tries to support his idea with different passages of Scripture.
I want to be clear about this. I don’t care what another preacher thinks! I want to know what the Biblical author was getting across as he was inspired by God! Now don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for topical preaching but its uses should be few and far between. I think a pastor should only preach this type of sermon whenever there is an urgent issue in the church that needs to be addressed immediately (but even still, expository preaching is often better in this case if the preacher merely knows what passage to preach from). However, the main diet of a church should be expository preaching! After all, preachers’ sermons and ideas are not inspired by the Holy Spirit but the Biblical authors and their ideas were! It is very easy for topical preaching to go wrong! It is easy for topical preaching to keep the preacher and the congregation in a shallow knowledge of the Word by merely skimming the top of several passages rather than digging deep and really understanding a passage. It is easy for preachers to preach their favorite topics over and over again and not giving their flock the whole diet of God’s Word. It is easy for preachers to misinterpret, overemphasize, and take passages out of context when they are preaching topically because they are dealing with several passages at once which makes it harder for congregations to test what the preachers are saying by God’s Word because the preacher is jumping around in the Bible too much!
After the service, another believer said, “That was a great message, wasn’t it?” I wasn’t sure how to respond. I didn’t want to speak negatively of another pastor. I could agree with many things the preacher said but the problem wasn’t so much the message as it was the driver of the message. I want God’s inspired Word to be driving the message. Not the preacher. I think we need a revival of expository messages. I hope that more congregations will stop getting by on topical messages and desire the meat of God’s Word. I hope that more churches will start to demand that pastors preach expository messages!