Now it’s getting personal…2

there has been a judgment floating around on blogs, in magazines and books, and in general ministry conversation recently.  it’s not a new discussion.  i was in on the roundtable thirty years ago.  i suppose i never really stepped away.  i’m just hearing it with new ears these days.

the judgment is one that offends me deeply.  it comes from the expository-preaching-is-the-best-kind-of-preaching camp.  it’s not their conclusion that offends me.  i actually agree with them on that one.  it’s some of their assumptions that bug me.

the assumption is that if i preach topically (or textually, as i prefer to see it), i am taking a less than sincere and a less than scholarly approach to my preaching and preparation.  that i am merely giving my opinions.  that i am bringing my own preconceived outline to the study table, rather than just letting the word of god speak for itself…in context.

the assumption is that my sermon content is man-made, rather than god inspired and drawn directly from heart of the text.

the assumption is that my sermon is shallow, because it might be flowing from a topic.  or that i might be too lazy or undisciplined to put the time into studying, in order to preach in an expository framework.

for those that care, let me assure you that i am taking due diligence!  even though my recent sermons (even the majority of my sermons throughout the year) are textual or topical, and not expository preaching through whole books of the bible at a time, my preparation is done with the same attention to detail just the same.

for whatever topic is being addressed, each scripture is studied within the context that it was originally written, so that the meaning is drawn from the text itself…rather than being dictated by the topic.   each of those scriptures are then compared with each other to draw a composite picture of what the whole bible has to say about that topic.  sometimes that can be done in one sermon, but not likely.  that’s why we will often do a “series” on a particular topic.

next time, i’ll give you some other reasons why i often preach through a topical series.  you might be surprised.

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6 thoughts on “Now it’s getting personal…2

  1. I honestly think that is what I connect to about North Point. I can relate to you. I don’t get the feeling that you are somehow better than everyone else and that is why you are the leader of the church. By you bringing your life into your sermons it helps me relate to words that were written 2000 years ago. The age of the words surely doesn’t change the relevance of them, but it does at times make it hard for us to put it in context in the modern day. You do a great job of doing that Rev.

  2. For those that feel like they are missing something they can always work on the weekly study sheets found on the bookcase at the back of the church that tie into what you were working on that week….sometimes the depth of those has me wondering if I got it/understood it, etc.

    I’m sorry if you have felt like somehow you were lacking since you have a different style.

    The topical style often allows me MUCH time to zone out and have the Holy Spirit move me and my mind in an entire different direction. ::grin::

  3. Oops…I shouldn’t type while fighting my youngest for keyboard time….

    I meant the EXPOSITORY style is often “zone out” time for me.

  4. Sunday, you said one sentence that made it very clear to me that your current topic (the Holy Spirit) needs to be a topic. You said that there is no one definition for the Holy Spirit anywhere in the Bible. That being true, I want to know what the whole Bible, not one book or one passage, says about the Holy Spirit – otherwise, I will miss part of the picture.
    What matters to me is truth, and truth can be taught using any of those methods. It could also be missed using any of those methods. One Scripture could be twisted. One topic could be swayed to a personal agenda. One book could be given precedence over all others. I don’t see you doing any of that. To me, your sermons over the last several months have reflected more study and depth than ever before. Maybe it’s the same, but for me, the truth of what you are saying is shining through, and you are definitely pointing us to the Word and expecting us to test what you say. Between the heavy emphasis on having an open Bible during the sermon, the Scripture readings, the songs that are very deliberately tied to the sermons, and the study guides, I think the services are saturated in the Word, which is what matters most of all.

  5. I love what Luke had to say about this.

    I’ve been thinking about biblical preaching, and Jesus actually spent the most of his time preaching topically. He wanted the people to understand. He told stories. Only once do we see him unrolling a scroll to preach through a book of the Old Testament. Granted, he didn’t need to worry about including the word of God like other preachers do since he WAS the Word of God, but still, it’s something to think about.

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