ArticlesHow Important is Expository Preaching?

How Important is Expository Preaching?

By Brian Vaughn

I believe that an expositional approach should be the primary focus of congregational preaching. By prioritizing expositional preaching, the church can grow deeper in their understanding of the word of God. My personal favorite path to take is walking chapter by chapter through books of the Bible. This way we can build week by week through the book. I do believe that topical and thematic sermons can be expositional. How is that possible you might ask? Let’s take a look at expository preaching. 

So what is expository preaching? Expository preaching means explaining a particular Bible passage in a detailed and organized way. As pastors we study the history, culture, and language surrounding the passage to help people today understand what it meant when it was written and how it applies to our lives today. Let’s look at a few main functions of expository preaching: (1) how it digs deeper into God’s Word (2) how it protects the flock from false teaching and (3) the navigating of pitfalls.

The Bible is the ultimate source of truth, and expositional preaching emphasizes the importance of accurately and faithfully studying and teaching it. 


How it digs deeper into God’s Word

Through expositional preaching, we can learn about God’s character, His plan for our lives, and how to grow in our relationship with Him. I have heard the current state of the church characterized as “a million miles wide and an inch deep.” Expositional preaching can fix this problem in the church. When I think of expositional preaching I immediately think about going through a book chapter by chapter verse by verse building each week on the previous and ending with a very deep understanding of that book. That is my personal favorite and the way I feel leans best into the text. Now, I did say that I do believe that topical and thematic sermons can be expositional. What does that look like? It looks like taking sections of scripture and building around them the history and meaning for it. It also includes digging into what that scripture is talking about on that topic and using that to build on through the series. The hard part of that for me is that it shouldn’t be the core of your preaching, it should be like the icing on the cake. We will jump into the pitfalls more in a minute.


How it protects the flock from false teaching

When you are digging through large sections of scripture bit by bit it makes it much harder to take things out of context. Expositional preaching helps to safeguard believers from false teachings by focusing on what the Bible says rather than on the latest trends or cultural fads. By staying grounded in the Word of God, believers can develop a discerning spirit and be better equipped to identify and reject false teaching when they encounter it. For instance, my wife once showed me a “motivational” scripture in front of a mountain that said, “Bow before me and I will give you all you see.” People were sharing this and claiming it over their lives without realizing that it was the devil speaking to Jesus, who immediately rebuked him. (Side note: my wife said that sentence made it sound like she believed it but she knew what it was immediately.) Expositional preaching can help to prevent such misunderstandings and protect believers from being led astray by false teaching. It also helps to teach people how to study the Bible and grow their personal study time.


It helps navigate pitfalls

Finally, I have mentioned dangers a few times. Let’s jump into it. I am going to be fair and attack my own personal favorite first. By going verse by verse it opens up to the chances of giving too much all at once. Some pastors can spend so much time giving out background details, doing individual word studies, and explaining the grammatical importance that it flies straight over the heads of the congregation and they gain nothing from it. We have to remember that yes we are teachers, but the pulpit is not a lecture hall. When I was in my first systematic theology class my professor told us a story. It was about a young man who went to seminary on fire for the Lord and came back with so much information he wanted to share with his congregation. The problem was he treated the pulpit like a classroom and everything went over their heads. He couldn’t bring it down to a level most people could understand. That is a major pitfall, but is not the only one. The reason I said that, “topical and thematic preaching shouldn’t be the core of your preaching, it should be like the icing on the cake,” is because it makes it very easy to only preach what you want to preach or what is easy to preach. It makes it easy to avoid parts of scripture that are hard and divisive in our current culture. This is a dangerous path and can take away from the word of God. These are just some of the pitfalls we navigate as the shepherds of God’s flock. 


So what does all of that mean? To me, the meaning is simple: to treat God’s Word with respect. I personally spend most of the year walking chapter by chapter through books but for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter I do spend time on topical. There can be a happy balance but I will always believe the meat and potatoes should be chapter by chapter. It will keep us from avoiding the hard things and give us context for them. While there may be disagreements about certain theological points, we can all agree that the power of expositional preaching lies in its ability to change lives for the better. As we continue to engage in this powerful and transformative approach to preaching, may we always seek to be faithful stewards of the Word, allowing it to shape and mold us into the people that God has called us to be.



*The views expressed are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pastor’s Common


  • Victor Hugo Castillo

    Great article. We also at Rio Grande Bible Church (McAllen, Texas) do expository preaching most of the year walking chapter by chapter through books, except around some of the holidays, but we also dedicate the whole month of September just focusing on Missions, sermons based on the Great Commandment and Great Commission

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