It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost twenty years from the turn-of-the-millennium version of the Zombie Apocalypse. According to some, the turn of the clock from 1999 to 2000 was going to result in unprecedented mayhem. Computers would stop working, ATM machines would not dispense money, food would be unavailable, and a host of other disasters. True Believers in the impending chaos were stocking their pantries and basements with jugs of water, canned food, powdered dinners. And, as it turned out, it was all for naught, unless you like jugs of water and powdered food. And my computer, running Windows something, worked just fine.
This is the time of year when people look back and then begin to look forward. Media sites will run articles about the major events of 2019 – and there have been a lot of them. I’m beginning to see – and have included in some of my posts – list of the best books of 2019. There will be lists of the best movies, best sports moments, and on and on. Not only that, pastors and church leaders are caught up with end-of-the-year activities. Soon enough it will be time to begin thinking about the new year, right? No. it’s time to be doing that right now.
Over the next few weeks I’d like to suggest a few ways you can begin thinking and planning for 2020, and I’ll do that by challenging you to make some commitments for the year. So here we go!
Challenge #1 for 2020: Commit to Expository Preaching.
Please don’t pass this one by quickly. I know that it’s one of the drums I beat a lot on this blog. But I’m convinced that it is essential for the health of the people God has put in your care.
There are several ways we can define or describe expository preaching. Someone has suggested that expository preaching takes place when the message of the sermon is the message of the passage.
You can listen to dozens of different expository sermons on the same passage and hear dozens of different ways of presenting the text. But you will be able to hear the major ideas of the text within those sermons.
The fact that so many are writing about expository preaching today is evidence of the fact that it has fallen on hard times. In a quest to be relevant, many pastors preach series after series of “how to” sermons. There may be a place for that on occasion, but making that the primary approach to preaching displays (unwittingly, I am sure) a somewhat dismissive attitude toward what God has used for centuries to strengthen his people and build his church.
To those who think that expository preaching is dry and irrelevant, let me ask you: Do you think the issues that the Philippians church faced were unique to them or are there issues of unity/disunity in your congregation? Are the Psalms merely quaint or are there people in your church who are hurting and need to see God’s care and power?
I could go on. But you get my point. If God wanted his people exposed to streams of practical life tips, why did he not construct the Bible that way?
Expository preaching is a means of giving your people God’s Word as God spoke it. Some passages may not lead to “take this to work with you this week,” but does that have to happen every Sunday? How about building truth into the lives of your people so that they have spiritual backbones?
Expository preaching, done right, is hard work. It’s pretty easy to come up with “how to” series. But let me challenge you to look ahead to 2020 with the goal of preaching God’s Word as opposed to using God’s Word as a jumping off point for helpful advice.