Preaching in a Great Commission Resurgence

February 26, 2009

I guess I am still pondering the sermon that Dr. Albert Mohler gave at this years FBC Jacksonville Pastors Conference. It is one sermon that made me reflect on my own ministry. I also picked up Dr. Mohler’s book on preaching, He Is Not Silent. I highly recommend it for anyone engaged in the preaching ministry. It is not a step by step procedure on how to do expository preaching, but a theology of expository preaching. It is a proper grounding in my humble opinion. In it he states:

“Rarely do we hear these days of a church that is distinguished primarily by its faithful, powerful, expository preaching. Instead, when we hear persons speak about their their churches,they usually point to something other than preaching. They may speak of its specialized ministry to senior adults, or its children’s ministry, or its youth ministry. They may speak of its music or its arts program or its drama team, or of things far more superficial than those. Sometime they may even speak of the church’s Great Commission vigor and its commitment to world missions – and for that we are certainly thankful. But sadly, it is rare to hear a church described first and foremost by the character, power, and content of its preaching.” (Mohler, 78-79)

Later, Dr. Mohler points to Paul (Col. 1:25) and relays Paul’s claim that he had been given his ministry “to make the word of God fully known.” As Dr. Mohler states, “The central purpose of Paul’s ministry, indeed the central purpose of every Christian ministry, is to make known the Word of God.” (Mohler, 79)

How do we make God’s Word fully known? For Dr. Mohler and other people like myself we believe it is done primarily through expository preaching. But wait, what is expository preaching? Many definitions are out there and I have heard many state that they are expository preachers, yet when it comes time for them to deliver the Word, I hear everything but expository preaching. Allow me to offer my humble opinion in this smörgåsbord of definitions. Expository preaching can be defined as: text driven preaching that seeks to expound on the central idea of the text and further clarify that idea with the following and or surrounding verses that support it. It also seeks to illustrate and apply the text so that the listeners can grasp what God has conveyed to the original listeners and ultimately have His Spirit carry that meaning to those who are listening today and apply it to their lives.

The focus of preaching should not be preaching that is based on the “felt needs” of the congregation, because, as is claimed by Dr. Mohler, “… the sinner does not know what his most urgent need is.” (Mohler, 20) The preaching that a Great Commission Resurgence needs is preaching that proclaims the full counsel of God which leads the listener to being confronted with the Gospel. Ultimately, it is to the Lordship of Christ through His Word that the church must submit. A church, a ministry, or a movement cannot discover what Jesus would have them do if they are ignorant of His Word. Nor can a Great Commission Resurgence be faithful to the Lordship of Jesus if it glosses over portions of God’s Word because those doctrines are felt to be  secondary in order or moralistic in nature.

The Great Commission Resurgence needs an embracing of expository preaching. Without it, we are in danger of not fully making known God’s counsel as found in the Bible. Our pulpits should be known for dynamic expository preaching. Without a return to this, seeker friendly/emergent type preaching will lead our churches in becoming further atrophied and ignorant of their strongest weapon: the Word of God. A Great Commission Resurgence without expository preaching is a movement without the Lordship of Christ.