Andy Stanley and Expository Preaching

Andy StanleyI have seen a lot of memes floating through social media criticizing Andy Stanley. If you want to know what I think of using memes to condemn fellow Christians, read this post.

The argument is that Stanley dismisses expository preaching. What is interesting is that this criticism is based on an interview that Stanley did six years ago. Read it here.

I assume that the reason that this is being brought up now is this recent post from the Aquila Report. In this article, J.D. Hall argues that Stanley trashes expository preaching.

The first thing I would suggest is to read Stanley’s comments for yourself and not just Hall’s criticisms.

Having read that, I do not see anything in this interview where Stanley “trashes expository preaching.” What Stanley criticizes are sermons that are simply going verse-by-verse through the Bible. That is not the same as dismissing expository preaching.

I am an expository preacher but that does not mean I feel the need to expound on every verse, no matter what it says. I enjoy going through a book of the Bible but I do not do it verse-by-verse. I go section by section and I focus on what I know is relevant to the congregation I am preaching to. For me expository preaching is about starting with the passage, determining the original meaning and then applying to the contemporary need. From what I can see in this interview, that is exactly what Stanley is suggesting.

The other thing that Stanley seems to be arguing is that it is not enough to simply demonstrate your knowledge of each verse. When I studied preaching in seminary, we were taught the need to exegete both the Bible and the congregation. That is what Stanley is arguing for. A good preacher needs to bridge the gap between the Bible and the congregation. There are plenty of good exegetes who are not good preachers because they are lecturers and not communicators.

What right do I have to say that we should take into account the congregation’s needs when preaching? I can’t help but noticing that both Jesus and Paul tailored their messages to the audiences they were speaking to. Jesus and Paul were exegetes and communicators.

I am not suggesting that you have to become an Andy Stanley fan. I am only suggesting that we should read what he actually said and determine what we can learn before we are quick to condemn. As Andy Stanley once said, “Strive to be a student rather than a critic.”

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One thought on “Andy Stanley and Expository Preaching”

  1. And remember, the elders of First Baptist Church, Atlanta wanted to fire Andys’ father, Dr. Charles Stanley, in his first year of ministry there.

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