Why don’t people like expositional preaching?
They have no appetite for it. Non-Christians typically have little desire to hear God’s authoritative Word. Yet we who are Christians can have weak spiritual appetites, like children who want only junk food, when the meat and vegetables of expositional preaching will do us far more spiritual good. We may not like expositional preaching because we’ve never been trained on solid foods.
“It’s too authoritative.” Expositional preaching says, “This is what God says. This is what it means for your life.” We don’t like that. Ever since Adam and Eve, we have wanted to hide our sin and act like our own gods. We have wanted to justify ourselves apart from God. Expositional preaching forbids all this because it authoritatively exposes what God says to us in his Word and therefore exposes the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).
“It’s irrelevant.” Sometimes we might think that a book that’s thousands of years old couldn’t possibly be relevant to our unique, brand new concerns. We forget that there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1), and that our biggest problems and their solution have been the same since the Fall: we’re sinners who stand condemned 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 important things about us are the same at all times and in all places—and expositional preaching will address all of these issues because they are the stuff of Scripture.
“It’s too intellectual.” Some people complain that expositional preaching is only for intellectuals. While some preachers may be hard for anyone to understand, expositional preaching should be accessible because it is simply explaining and applying the Scriptures, which even a child can understand (2 Timothy 3:15). Remember, many scholars say that the book of Hebrews itself was a sermon. That’s quite a demanding sermon!
They’ve heard bad expositional preaching. There are bad expositional preachers, just as there are bad topical and narrative preachers. Yet expositional preaching should be anything but dry and boring. What could be more riveting than hearing what God says to you and having it specifically applied to your life? Expositional preaching should be personal, engaging, and relevant to life. If it’s not, it’s not truly expositional.
Find more great resources for church health from Mark Dever and 9Marks Ministries at www.9marks.org