Expository Preaching And The Mission Of The Church -- By: David L. Allen

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 06:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Expository Preaching And The Mission Of The Church
Author: David L. Allen

Expository Preaching And The Mission Of The Church

David L. Allen

Dr. Allen serves as Professor of Preaching, occupying the George W. Truett Chair of Ministry, as Director of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching, and as Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

This chapter is an edited transcription from an oral presentation delivered at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry “Mission of Today’s Church” Conference in March, 2005.


I do not believe it is over the top to say that there is a crisis in preaching not only in the Evangelical world but also in large swaths of the Southern Baptist world. In the SBC, we talk about expository preaching; often we do not practice it.

I received a phone call from a man in Texas. He asked me if I had a student who either was close to graduating or maybe graduated recently whom I could recommend to him who would consider planting a new church. His one condition was that the new pastor must be an expositional preacher. Though I suspected what his answer would be, I queried him further about his request. He had been to every Southern Baptist church within a three-county contiguous area, and had visited many churches more than once, looking for a church where the pastor preached expository sermons. He further stated that he had been to lots of evangelical churches, not just Baptist churches, and could not find a single one where the pastor preached expositionally. He went on to describe a litany of ridiculous “sermons” he had heard of the “five ways to be happy” and “three ways to love your mother” variety. He concluded: “My wife and I are 63 years old and recently retired. We are prepared financially to stand behind a new work if we can have a pastor who would preach expositionally.”

This situation is not atypical. I routinely hear it in varied permutations.

In many churches, pop culture, personal experience, packaged pragmatism, and pop psychology have displaced the Bible. Add to this the urge today to be “creative” in preaching. Now I am not opposed to creativity, and I hope you are not either. However, creativity is something of a code word today in some church circles for “anti-expository preaching,” or at the very least “creativity” is appealed to justify why some do not practice exposition regularly. I am all for creativity, but when creativity subverts or overrides the communication of biblical content, we have a real problem. Preaching magazine is one of the professional journals for preachers. In the January/February 2005 edition, there is a lead

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