Friends: My new booklet is entitled “Ten Specific Steps You Can Take To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!” will be done soon and I will be giving it away on this blog. It will be a pdf or ebook that you can download and share with your pastor or preacher. Chapter one was entitled “Step One: Do the Work!” Chapter two was entitled “Step Two: Develop a Clear Outline!” Here’s Chapter Three:
STEP THREE: Expository Versus Topical Messages!
I heard about one preacher who received a compliment after his Sunday morning sermon. The elderly lady didn’t realize what she said, but what came out was, “You are one of the best suppository preachers I have ever heard!” [She obviously meant “expository”].
Expository messages are a means of working one’s way through an entire book of the Bible. They typically focus on one main text — the next section coming up in that study. Topical sermons, on the other hand, seek to give the overall Scriptures’ teaching on a particular subject from a number of passages.
Topical sermons are often quite helpful for those who are new to the faith. They give the preacher the opportunity to briefly explain the overall teaching of the Bible on a subject. One danger of topical sermons is that the preacher might only preach on the subjects that are interesting to him. He might begin riding his hobby horse. [Someone has asked, “What is the difference between riding a hobby horse and riding a real horse?” The answer? “You can get off a real horse!”]
Expositional messages, however, focus on one main text at a time. They are seeking to expose the point the passage is making. Exegesis, a fancy term which literally means “to lead out,” is the art of unfolding what is truly there in the passage. We can read into a passage what isn’t there — and that’s called “eisegesis.” If someone says to you, “Your sermon was the best example of eisegesis I’ve ever heard!”, they are not complimenting you.
I would recommend that most of your sermons ought to be of the expository kind. One advantage is that you are working your way through an entire book of the Bible. So if you are doing a sermon series on the Gospel of Matthew, and this Sunday’s message is on Matthew 19, no one can really complain that you spoke on the topic of divorce. That was your next preaching section!