I’m inclined to sing “Ding dong the witch is dead!” at the prospect of the demise of expository preaching! I remember sitting through minute after tedious minute of sermons (usually 45 minutes long) telling me what the passage says, breaking it into three points, and then telling me what the three points say. It was all so very tiresome. As if the ‘expositor’ was mining an inexhaustible gold mine of lessons for life. When in fact what was happening was that a message that deserved about 5 or maybe 10 minutes of presentation was transformed into a three point sermon where the three points were repeated at least three times each and various anecdotes from modern life were interspersed among them with an occasional joke insinuated into one or more of the points so as to ‘drive home the theme’ or some such rot.
There was a time when sermons were usually organized into series that took entire books verse by verse, chapter by chapter, all the way through with plenty of Greek and Hebrew background. It was, in short, the Pastor sharing the benefits of his considerable education.
Oh dear! Like that 8 year long self-flagellating odyssey into tedious book exposition that was the legacy of Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones?
And education, at least for evangelicals, is exactly where the problem lies. There was a time when it was normal, indeed required, for a Pastor, even in “low church” denominations like mine, to have an M.Div. at the very least. Earned D.Div. (back when such a thing still existed) and D.Min. degrees were not uncommon. Sure, there were exceptions. A.W. Tozer (who only had an Eighth Grade education) springs to mind, but that was the rare exception, not the rule. Now a days, we’re lucky to have a Pastor who even has an honest to goodness seminary degree. Usually we get someone with a B.A. in something totally unrelated who get’s ordained and then does a quicky M.A. via correspondence course.
I see, but does that explain the liturgical dance one sees in some circles and the big bands one hears in others. And what about the 45 minutes of hill-song-choruses about “me” and “I” and mountains and such edifying stuff performed to set the mood for a sermon on bringing one’s tithes into the Lord’s storehouse?
Back when I was in Bible College, a wise old Professor told me that, “A Pastor feeds his church out of the storehouse of a lifetime spent seriously studying the word; and, if you don’t take your studies seriously, you won’t be have anything to feed them with. You can’t share what you don’t have.” And, at least in evangelicalism, that’s exactly the situation we’re in right now: People trying to share what they don’t have. We’ve exchanged worship for performance, preaching for platitudes, righteousness for politics, and genuine ministry for an ever more worldly and, in my mind, cynical set of “programs.”
I know I’ve been rather cynical in the comments above, it comes from a lifetime spent ‘studying the word’ with evangelical glasses firmly in position between my mind and my bible. Mind you, once those glasses got lost the bible seemed much less like an inexhaustible gold mine of lessons for life and much more like the reflections of godly people on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Then the Word became a person and the bible a book witnessing to him. And sermons became homilies that were about 10 minutes or a little more and songs were not sung to set the mood and tithing became a provision of the old covenant for the support of the religious apparatus of temple worship and the day to day application of the Levitical/Mosaic law to the life of the nation. Suddenly there was some clarity and expositions that were subject to the whim of a preacher’s immediate needs and/or views about what his congregation needed to hear vanished away like a mist that had obscured the beauty of the land that we’ve inherited in Christ.
No, I am not nostalgic about the good old days when Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones was all the rage or when Spurgeon’s sermons were thought to be a model of godly-clarity-and-evangelical-culture.
Humble apologies for voicing these thoughts. It just seems that nostalgia for a past age was being vented and a venting of alternative perspectives looked opportune