It seems strange to me when Christians demand that for preaching to be biblical, it must conform to a certain style of sermon delivery. For them they state that exegetical preaching is the only ‘valid’ style of preaching. Yet, does the Biblical witness actually allow for this style of preaching to be called the only valid method of preaching?
And when we look to the Scriptures themselves as our guide as to how we are to preach and deliver a sermon, we soon run into some difficulties. For we soon find there are many styles, types, and methods of preaching. Through out the OT and NT we find that story telling is the main methodology of preaching. Moses is considered to have written the first 5 books of the Bible, and within them, we find the story which he told, and the story which was passed down from generation to generation. In fact, its said, that most 7 year old boys in their era, could recount those books verbally.
We are also faced with the difficulty in that the original scriptures were not broken down into chapter and verse numbers, nor did they have chapter titles. The NT epistles were actually written to a church as a complete sermon in and of themselves. They were never read, and expounded on within their churches verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Instead, they were read as one complete unit. It seems unusual then that we would break down each verse and chapter and preach on it as we do.
Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing…what I am saying is that we have little Biblical warrant to do so. In the NT we are shown a number of styles of sermons, none of them are exegetical sermons of the OT. Mostly they are exhortational sermons, which address the need at hand. In many ways, they are even topical. Take Philemon as an example. Jude is an exceptional example of a NT sermon. His style is to exhort and encourage his readers to remain faithful. In no way shape or form, can you find any hint of a exegetical sermon within that book. He doesn’t even seem to refer to any Scripture and he even refers to an ancient non canonical book as adding some authority to his message.
Therefore as preachers we need to explore more deeply, the methods in which we can ‘best’ employ, to tell the gospel story, to build up the community of the faithful, to encourage our congregations to live out their faith and to share and teach the Bible as our story of faith. After all, that is what the NT preachers did themselves. I have two main methods of preaching…one is to exegete a passage – but my favourite method is to tell the story of what the Scriptures are actually saying…and when I hit my stride, I rarely reference a Scripture with chapter or verse – instead, I will say that in this book, this person says this, or this person did that and just get on the business of telling the story.
Anyway, to all you sermon purists out there, those of you who state that exegetical preaching is the best, if not the only way to go. Just what is the basis on which you make that claim? Do you actually have Scriptural support to back that claim up? And if you don’t actually have Scriptural support to making that claim; are you actually guilty of adding to Scripture, that which Scripture doesn’t actually demand?