It isn’t unusual to hear people speak of expository preaching as an irrelevant mode of communication that has no place in the contemporary church. Outdated. Unnecessary. Irrelevant. Here’s a quote from a footnote in the book I just finished this morning and will review sometime soon, but will leave you in suspense for now (p79):
As long as original sin has the human race in its grasp, and as long as the conscience has the slightest awareness of guilt, declaring the competence of the sin-bearing Christ to rescue the guilty will never be irrelevant.
Absolutely. The problem with the “irrelevance” talk is that it seems to be looking at entirely the wrong thing.
1. People don’t always know what they need. Everyone seems to be an expert in how long they can concentrate, how they learn best, how they need to be fed, etc. As a parent I know it is possible to be most sincere about what is best, yet in my slightly advanced maturity I can see through the best laid plans of toddlers and children. In a culture that has degenerated on so many levels, the frogs in the near boiling water are happy to announce that preaching the Bible is now irrelevant to them since they are so advanced compared to all who have come before. It seems, at times, that the only advance is the march of sin toward judgment.
2. People don’t always know what they haven’t heard. For example, feed a church poor preaching consistently and they may moan, but they also will cling on to the scraps of good that they receive from the pulpit. Sometimes great expository preaching can be as much of a shock to the system as a nutritious feast is a shock to a starving body.
3. People don’t always know the difference between critiquing bad examples and critiquing something as a whole. I can say that tomatoes are unnecessary for me to have an enjoyable diet because I have only tasted sour excuses for tomatoes. But now that I have enjoyed some of the finer specimens from Italy and elsewhere, I wouldn’t be so brash in my dismissal of all tomatoes. The same goes for expository preaching. What may be irrelevant is the kind of pseudo-expository preaching many have grown accustomed to (lacking biblically, lacking communicationally, lacking applicationally, lacking spiritually, lacking in gospel, lacking in skill, lacking in prayer).