Expository or Topical Preaching?

I have attended and visited churches that have different philosophies of preaching. Some churches seem to be purely topical. Each week is a topic such as mental health, finances, prayer and so forth. These can be quite popular.

Other churches are extremely expository. The preacher will pick a book and go through it verse by verse. I’m sure that there are pastors who could preach through Philemon in a year.

I find among many pastors a preference for expository sermons. The feelings are so strong they may hesitate to include a topical sermon in the category of preaching. I will confess that some topical sermons are pretty weak. They may end up being more a speech by the pastor with a little Scripture tagged on. This is not good.

I prefer expository preaching, especially going through a book. I am currently doing a series on the Gospel of Luke. However, I do not go verse by verse and I am not including every single passage. I am not saying that verse by verse is wrong, I just prefer to get through the book a bit faster.

What I love about expository preaching is that I let the passage choose the topic. This leads me to preach on things that I would not normally preach on. I preached on repentance on my second Sunday at my current church simply because that was the next passage in series. I also find that expository preaching helps both the congregation and myself to gain a deeper understanding of a particular book.

Having said that, I am not completely against topical preaching. This spring I will take a break from the series on Luke and will preach through the church mission statement. I will have an anchoring Scripture for each message but I am starting with the topic. I think that preaching on our church mission statement is extremely important.

So my preaching plan is to live in expository land and then take a few short visits into topical land. I believe that this combination will give the church a good biblical foundation.


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