It’s not enough these days to say that we are committed to biblical preaching. Few self-respecting evangelical pastors would say, “At our church we don’t preach the Word.” And yet, in many worship services, the Word of God is sprinkled onto the sermon like sprinkles on an Ice Cream Sundae. You may choose to add them in but the ice cream is the star of the show. We need to be clear about how and what we preach. At Cornerstone Church we are committed to expository preaching.
What is expository preaching? Mark Dever, in his little book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church says, “Expository preaching has as its goal to expound what is said in a particular passage of scripture, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation.” We believe that the faithful ministry of the Word of God changes lives. Week by week we work verse by verse through books of the Bible. The scripture drives our services and not the felt-needs of the congregation. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convict, encourage and admonish. He moves the affections and emotions of the hearers, not some well placed punch-line or visual aid.
Expository preaching does not have to be boring. It should not be a running commentary on a book of the Bible or an opportunity for a well-read pastor to show off his knowledge of biblical languages. Expository preaching does not have to consist of just a few words of scripture per week. A good expository preacher should be able to preach larger sections of scripture so that his hearers can understand the context and flow of a book. He will add helpful illustrations and may even be funny. But the primary goal of expository preaching should not be to entertain.
It is not uncommon for pastors to think of the people in the pews as consumers. From this perspective, they must be kept happy so that they’ll keep coming back. We see the church as the household of God. The church is both a body and a family. We are saints and the goal of preaching is that the saints be encouraged, edified, and equipped for ministry.