Three Ways to Keep Consecutive Exposition Fresh

Keeping Consecutive Biblical Exposition Fresh

This is a continuation of an interview with Tim Sattler. Part One: Why Consecutive Expository Preaching? Eight Reasons Why It’s Needed. Listen to the audio below (or with this link) or read the abridged transcript below.

Kevin Halloran

Kevin Halloran

Kevin: Some think that consecutive exposition is great for books like Philippians or James, but not so great for longer and more difficult books like Ezekiel, Isaiah, or 1-2 Samuel. Consecutive exposition might bring to mind Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ preaching through Romans for decades and cause some to think, “That’s not for me and my congregation.” Are there ways to preach books without getting bogged down?

Tim Sattler

Tim Sattler

Tim: There are. You don’t want to preach through Deuteronomy and have your people sense that you’ve been there 40 years, do you? You want them to feel like they will soon cross over the Jordan and something new will come.

Here are a few practical ways to keep consecutive exposition fresh:

Idea #1: Preach big chunks.

Tim: Understanding the genre of the text helps with this. Too often preachers are most comfortable preaching through epistles and approach larger books like epistles. Just because it’s a large book doesn’t mean you have to go through it in 15 years. Narrative lends itself to larger chunks to preach through. Romans does too. It would be good if we could get more comfortable preaching through larger chunks. And if we’re preaching through small chunks, we are probably fragmenting the text. We need to be preaching through an author’s complete thought. If we are preaching through complete thoughts, the preaching will go faster.

I’ve found personally in preaching narrative that young kids go home and they’re reading ahead. It’s not getting boring for them; they want to know what’s happening next. If we’re doing it right, taking larger chunks is very helpful and needful and will help us carry the story along so as to keep it fresh in people’s minds. If you take smaller chunks, you could be coming back to the same thought, again and again, every week.

Kevin: It also forces preachers to have a really good understanding of the story as a part of a whole, which makes it that much more interesting. And people want that.

Idea #2: Take breaks.

Tim: A lot of preachers stop what they’re doing in the summer. If you’re preaching through Judges, you could slip Ruth in the middle of it because it is a similar timeframe and it is the opposite of the story. It would be exciting to preach Ruth right in the middle of this downward pull of Judges to see a story of God’s great salvation and kindness to his people.

You can use the church calendar for breaks, but I don’t think you need to take many. If you’re doing exposition right, people will keep on with you and want the next thing to get to the conclusion. People feel the need for breaks is if it’s bogging down. I sit through a 2.5-hour movie and I don’t feel like I need to stop and take a break. I want to see the entire story.

Idea #3: Representative exposition.

Kevin: Representative exposition is another option. What are the pros and cons of representative exposition?

Tim: It’s an interesting approach. I was recently asked to preach ten sermons on 1–2 Samuel. I thought, “What are the ten sermons? What are the key thoughts that would help carry the story along?”

The danger in it is you pick everybody’s favorite story and you make it a series through all the popular stories but they’re not necessarily connected in carrying the story that the author has for you in the book. You could miss the set up for the main stories. You’d have to be really adept at telling the story up to that point. The other danger is that your preaching could be thematic through a book. Then it becomes more informational and not transformational. The themes dominate on a doctrine or a practical issue but it doesn’t necessarily flow from the author’s intent in that moment or section. There are some dangers in it.

We should be able to, with a book, break it down into a few sections. We should help people see what the portions of a book are about, but we should connect it to the whole of what the author is unfolding in a book. We’d have to know how this story (or book) begins and how it ends, where the author is going, and how that unfolds—and then pick out some of the key points.

But, I think this is a lot more work. You run the risk of losing important tensions, like in narrative, that are there on purpose. If we by-pass them, we miss the climax of the story. I think representative exposition can be done, but I think it is a lot more work and requires a lot more skill than just preaching through the book.

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Preaching the Bible’s Authorial Intent

David Jackman Expository Preaching Gospel Ministry Authorial Intent in Scripture

We recently had a conversation with David Jackman of Proclamation Trust and the Cornhill Training Course on expository preaching, gospel ministry, the author’s intent in the Bible, and preaching the genres of the Bible (watch the full interview).

The video and transcript below share a highlight from the interview on preaching the Bible’s authorial intent.

Todd Kelly: In some conversations about preaching, the phrase or idea of authorial intent is used to describe the task. But, sometimes it just leaves us with a cold theme. Can you explain that concept of authorial intent, and help us to understand how it should shape the sermon, and where it should lead us?

David Jackman: Yes, if God has inspired the Word (as we believe He has), then the human writer, under God, has an intention in writing the Word. Paul didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Oh, I haven’t got in touch with the Colossians lately, I’ll just drop them a line.” He has a purpose, an authorial intention in writing the Epistle. So our job is to discover what that intention is.

Now that comes from careful study of the text, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and by immersing ourselves in the actual content of the Word.

But you could teach that in a fairly theoretical, academic sort of way which can leave people cold. They feel there’s nothing there for me and my heart and my life this week. And I think it’s possible to have a sort of preaching that is more like lecturing. It may be accurate, may be faithful, but it doesn’t communicate, doesn’t get it across, doesn’t communicate to the heart.

So if we go from the author’s intention and ask ourselves, “What is God’s pastoral intention in inspiring the author to write this book?” Then we’re making a journey from the mind to the heart—from understanding the text to realizing why the text is there and what the text has to say to us and what its implications are for our lives.

So through the mind to the heart is the journey from authorial intent to pastoral intent. And then if we respond with a heart that is receptive to God’s Word, it will work out in our lives. Preaching is always with a view to change of life. It’s never simply writing information down in your notebook about God. It’s always God is intervening in our lives changing our lives as we understand this truth and apply this truth and relate it to our circumstances. And the other thing the preacher has to do is help the congregation to do that, by giving examples and illustrations and so on. So could you just take us one step further on this journey, in terms of application, because many many preachers this side of the Atlantic feel a pressure to apply the Word of God.

Todd Kelly: Can you tell us the relationship of application to the shepherding intent of the scriptures?

David Jackman: Yes. I rejoice that they find some pressure on that. I think it’s better to have a pressure to apply than to think I don’t need to.

Sometimes people just lay out the fruits of their exegetical study and that’s it. And I don’t think that nurtures the flock as much as they might. So we want to take it a stage further, don’t we. But the application must come from the text. So we’ve got to be on the main line of the text. It’s not a matter of how can I apply this, “Let me bring in an application from outside and bolt it onto the Bible text.”

I sometimes say to my students in London that I know you’ve all got bolt-on applications that you will make if you can’t think of anything else to say, like we ought to read the Bible more, or we ought to pray more, we ought to evangelize more. And all those things are true, but is that why this text is here? What is this text saying in terms of its application to our lives?

That transformational power in preaching—which is the Holy Spirit’s work—comes through the hard work of the study of the preacher and his dependence upon the Spirit’s power in the preaching.

I do think we have to work at that and I think it works through in practical terms so that we begin to carry through what we’ve learned prayerfully and in dependence on God’s grace into our lives, and working for that sort of change that is shaping us into the likeness of Christ. That transformational power in preaching—which is the Holy Spirit’s work—comes through the hard work of the study of the preacher and his dependence upon the Spirit’s power in the preaching.

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Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump? Transformational Preaching in the Philippines

Dear Friends and Partners,

Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump?

Instead of preaching his own sermons, Pastor Larry read from Bible commentaries for an information-heavy preaching ministry. After beginning TNT, he learned God’s purpose for information in the Bible isn’t only to inform the mind, but to transform lives. Now equipped to study and preach messages for himself, Larry’s preaching brought new, Spirit-backed power.

Cely, a woman in his church battling stage-four bone and liver cancer, took notice of the new Larry. God was changing her life and her church due to her pastor’s TNT-influenced preaching. She soon found out Pastor Larry was training other pastors all over her country, including in her hometown. “How can I help? I want to sponsor the training there because I know what God has done in my life through you.”

Months later, after arriving at the airport in Cely’s hometown to begin TNT training, Pastor Larry and Pastor Neil heard someone shouting their names from a distance while at baggage claim. It was Cely! She had made the trek against her doctor’s orders to join the two and a half day workshop.

Larry asked Cely if her husband, who isn’t a believer, knew she was funding the training. She replied, “It’s actually from him!” Perplexed, Larry said, “He’s not a believer—why would he want to support this?” Cely recounted her husband’s words, “If this type of preaching can bring about this change in my wife, it’s worthy of my financial investment.”

Cely has since gone to be with the Lord. At her wake, her grieving husband told Pastor Larry, “Tell me what you need and I will still support the training.”

Hearing of God’s goodness in the Philippines made our hearts rejoice. Would you join us in prayer for many more Filipino preachers and congregations to be transformed?

Yours in Christ,

Craig Parro


PS: Our opportunities to train in SE Asia and the Philippines have outpaced our resources to fulfill them. Would you consider a generous gift to see many more transformed preachers like Larry in SE Asia?

Measuring Impact – Video of Webinar with Craig Parro

How should non-profits and missions organizations measure impact?

The challenging (and sometimes ambiguous) nature of measuring impact may deter some from even trying, but LRI President Craig Parro says measuring impact is crucial.

In the webinar Craig Parro hosted with the Barnabas Group in Chicago, IL, Craig unpacks the why and the how of measuring impact. Since every organization is so different, Craig bases much of his talk on how Leadership Resources measures impact training pastors in biblical exposition in the Training National Trainers program.

Download PDF of slides

“Why is it that everyone loves learning, but nobody loves being evaluated?” – Craig Parro

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