Friday, April 13, 2012

The Value of Expository Sermons

I wrote in a previous blog about the six different types of sermons. Though all of those types of sermons are important and should be used in appropriate ways, the most effective style of preaching for the long term health of the local church is expository preaching. I encourage both laymen who aspire to preach and young pastors just starting out in ministry to pick up a copy of the classic book, “How to Prepare Sermons.” Though it is an older book, the truth it teaches about expository sermons is just as fresh today as when it was first written. For those who do not have access to a copy of the book, I have summarized the ideas about the importance of expository sermons below:

Expository sermons is the type of sermon that deals more fully with the explanation of the scripture itself than any other type of sermon.

Suggestions for successful expository sermons include:

1. Use a portion of scripture that contains one leading thought or theme.

2. Consider preaching through an Old Testament book and then a New Testament book as a way to balance law and grace.

3. A thorough study of the entire text is absolutely critical for the success of an expository sermon.

4. The preacher must avoid being merely theoretical; he must be practical as well.

The advantages of expository sermons include:

1. It produces Biblical preachers and hearers.

2. It conforms to the Biblical ideal of preaching.

3. It is wider in scope than any other type of sermon.

The possible disadvantages of expository sermons include:

1. It can become monotonous for the congregation.

2. The preacher can become lazy if he does not actually dig into the meaning.

3. The text may be too long. Therefore, keep the sections short enough to deal with in one sermon.

4. Such sermons can become is too confining because they might ignore current events. To avoid this, utilize other types of sermons from time to time even if one prefers the expository sermon most of the time.

Though various styles of preaching should be used, the expository sermon should remain the "default" sermon that is used most often.

Above outline adapted from William Evans’ book, How to Prepare Sermons, published in Chicago by Moody Bible Institute in 1964. The outlined was adapted specifically from pages 92-97.


  1. I have a friend who likes to preach topically. But to be honest, after a while, it seems like he is repeating himself. How many sermons on "Three Steps to a Happy Marriage" do we need to hear?

  2. I do not like it when someone goes to a pastor for counseling and the sermon the following week is about that subject. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel a lot better when the pastor preaches through a book of the Bible becuase I know that when he gets to "my issue" that it is just where the scripture falls and not pointed at me personally.

  3. Thanks for the comments above. I can sure understand both of those perspectives, having felt them myself from time to time. That is why expository preaching is so important.

  4. I know this post is about preaching sermons, but what about teaching a Bible lesson to a small group?

  5. Though this post was particularly aimed at more formal sermons in traditional settings, I believe the same concepts apply to teaching small groups. Regularly using other methods will tend to produce weaker Bible knowledge over the long term. That does not mean that other methods cannot be used from time to time, but teaching through the Bible section by section should always be the default method.