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Storied expository preaching | W. David Phillips

Storied expository preaching

I’ve seen too many pastors give sermons that resemble reports or presentations more than sermons. I confess that I have done that myself. One major reason for this, I believe, is the emphasis on expository preaching. And expository preaching has arisen because of modernity’s insistence on speaking to the mind primarily, rather than the whole person – which is primarily emotional and experiential.

Don’t get me wrong, all preaching should be expository preaching. But we have turned expository preaching into a form. That form works itself out through acrostics or some other multiple point system. Most of us are doing descriptive preaching thinking it is expository preaching. We are simply describing what the text says.

Expository preaching should simplify, clarify, and help people understand the text of scripture. But that does not mean it has to happen in multiple-point-based form. You can do expository preaching via story.

People do not get motivated over facts. People do not change because of points.

Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, list three pieces to the motivation puzzle: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Others note motivation happens through pain, relationships, life experiences, recognition, etc. None of these are about facts or explanations. They are emotional, not mental. They are experiential, not rational.

Our expository form of sermonizing typically focus on providing information. Stories provide experiences. Blending the two creates a perfect scenario where our sermon can layer information and story like a baker layers a cake. Through the navigation between them, information, then story, we create interest and a pulse. We create a rhythm.

The idea of salvation is to help people find their individual salvation in the story of God’s salvation story, to find where they fit in the story of God.

The point of preaching is help people find their place in God’s story by helping them see how their story intersects with God’s story.

So what should our sermons do? Explore the desires in the congregation and then show them how the Godhead fills that desire. Then show them the outcome of God filling that desire by painting a literally or verbal picture of life lived with that desire met by God.

Our sermons should create an experience with the word and the Spirit, so that the Word becomes alive experientially with them and within them. You can use facts and information. But you can do it more effectively through story.

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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1 comment
  • I did my Doctor of Ministry thesis on Expository Preaching with an emphasis on the parables. I agree 100% with the need to blend narrative/story with expository preaching. The two are not mutually exclusive.

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