What Is Expository Preaching? Part 6


A Text-Driven Outline

From the foundational information that was derived from the grammatical and
syntactical studies that were done earlier in the exegetical process, the expositor should
have been able to construct an exegetical outline. It is from this outline that the expositor
may want to stay as close as possible in order to derive his preaching outline. Some
homileticians recommend a big idea or propositional statement with a plural noun that
will lead into the homiletical outline. All of this is fine as long as it is not forced and
contrived. Although alliteration is a good device for keeping the main points in the
hearer’s memory for a longer period of time, one must be careful not to allow the outline
to begin to drive the sermon. All too often a preacher can get so involved in finding that
perfect word that will fit into his outline that he is willing to stretch the bounds of what
the text says in order to have symmetry. If one stays within the text’s boundaries, even
without fancy alliteration and other homiletical devices, God will be honored.

A Sermon that Starts. Stays and Ends with the Text

Expository sermons are marked by a high view of Scripture. This is further
evidenced in the way that the sermon is committed to stay with the text and to explain
that text in light of the immediate context and other considerations addressed in my previous posts on this subject.

Other types of preaching may give lip service to the text by reading it and going
elsewhere for proof-text. Others may use the text as a springboard to launch out into any
variety of subjects without ever coming back to the original verses. But the expository sermon attempts to stay with the text, to explain the text and to end with the text so that
the hearer leaves with a fuller and clearer understanding of the Scriptures than they had

A Text-Driven Homiletic

Although this could be applied in different ways, the text-driven sermon needs to
take into consideration the genre that is being considered for the format of the sermon. If
a narrative section is to be considered, then the preacher would do better to allow the
story to unfold than to try to force the story into the form of “three points and a poem.” If
the genre is wisdom literature, as in Proverbs, the form might be clustering up proverbs
according to a theme. Epistolary books fit better into the traditional homiletical outline,
but even within these letters one can find other sub-genres. The idea is simply that the
expository preacher allows the Bible to speak for itself in whatever form God inspired the
text. We should not try a one-size-fits-all type of homiletical presentation for every
type of genre. If God gave us different types of writings, then we ought to search out the
appropriate format for that specific style of writing.

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