Isn’t expositional preaching too monological and one-sided? Don’t people better learn through dialogue?
Some people resent expositional preaching’s monological mode. One man stands up for many minutes and preaches while everyone else listens. Isn’t this unfair or even oppressive? What about conversation?
Certainly, there should be plenty of venues in the life of the church for conversation, whether through inductive Bible studies, follow-up sermon studies in small groups, or other contexts. But the monological mode of expositional preaching is very important for at least three reasons. It teaches us that:
God is God, we are not. God does graciously listen to the pleas of his people (e.g. Genesis 18:23 , but God also requires his people to draw near him and listen, not speak (see Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 . And a faithful preacher preaches not for the congregation to hear his opinions and ideas, but God’s.
The words of life and salvation come from God, not the “perspectives” or “opinions” of people (Proverbs 4:10; John 6:63 John 6:68;2 Timothy 3:16-17). Throughout Scripture, God acts through his Word. His Word alone creates and recreates (Genesis 1:3; Psalms 33:6 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 . Paul therefore writes that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17. Peter says that we have been born again “through…the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
Sinners like us need a direct, gracious address from God. We contribute nothing to our salvation. God does it all. And in preaching, the hearers contribute nothing to the sermon itself—their job is to sit under the Word, to give heed to the Word, and to allow themselves to be transformed by the Word. Expositional preaching is thus an apt picture of God’s sovereign, unilateral work of salvation.
So expositional preaching both represents God’s saving work, and is one of the chief means by which he accomplishes his saving work. It should be monological and one-sided, because it is by means of that very one-sidedness that God saves sinners.
Find more great resources for church health from Mark Dever and 9Marks Ministries at www.9marks.org