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.