Topical Preaching VS. Expository Preaching. Why not both?

Billy Graham Preaching The Word

I have read a few blogs lately discussing the differences and preferences of pastors on topical and expository preaching styles.

As I read one blog, it claims all the benefits of topical based preaching. Starting and forming it’s argument around the ability of the topical based message to reach the ears of the audience in the life stage that they are at. While another claimed that expository preaching is the only way to go. Holding to the opinion that all teaching from the Bible must be verse-by-verse in nature.

While both blogs make very good points and I agree with the basis for both. I wonder why this has to divide us. Why can’t we do both? We are striving for the same goal, to reach people and change lives with the power of God’s Word. Correct?

To begin we must examine the basis for topical preaching and expository preaching. Topical preaching is a message centered around a central topic with sub-points of that topic supported by scripture in order to give instruction on that topic. While expository preaching seeks to expose the meaning of the Scripture through the full explanation of the Scripture within the context of the Scripture.

The whole debate between the best form a preaching derives from how the pastor is reading the Word. Whether he is taking an inductive approach to reading Scripture, forming an opinion and searching for Scripture to back it up with no regard for context. Or if he is taking a deductive approach to the Word by reading Scripture in context and deriving meaning from the Scripture as it is written.

As I am reading through all these different opinions on the topic, I find myself in the middle to an extent.
I completely understand the reasoning behind topical preaching. I see the need for people to understand fully what the Bible says about their marriages, their kids, and their finances and sometimes they don’t have the next two years to hear the full exposition of the Bible. Plus, lets face it, even the best verse-by-verse expositional pastors do some form of topical preaching at some points of their career. (Usually around the holidays like Christmas, Easter, Etc.)
While I also agree that verse-by-verse expositional preaching is very profitable. I truly believe that a congregation will grow more mature by hearing the entire Word of God and not just the mains points that the pastor wants to teach on that week.

So what do I propose? Both. Let’s take the best of both worlds and use our gifts as those called to preach to preach the Word as best as we can.
How are we going to accomplish this? With guidelines.

1- We Will Stick To The Text!
You don’t have to go verse-by-verse but do some background research on the text before you align it with your topic. In other words, take the deductive approach while reading and preaching the Word to your congregation. Stick to the Text!

2- We Will Remember Our Calling!
As pastors, we are called to give people the Word of God. Not our words or opinions. In this, we must note that God’s Word does Not change. It is everlasting, just like Him. While our opinions do. Bring God’s council, Not yours. Remember Your Calling to Preach God’s Word!

3- We Will Recognize God’s Power!
The power of God is what calls into salvation and calls us into ministry. It does not make any sense that we would we rob our people of that same power by delivering our message and not His. Plus, that is what we are doing in a weekend worship service. We are there to recognize and submit to God’s power. The audience or congregation will not see God’s power unless it is faithfully transferred through His word. Recognize God’s Power and Plead with the Congregation to Respond!

4- We Will Not Avoid the Hard Topics!

(This could actually be a sub-point to the first. But I found it important enough to be it’s own point.)

The hard topics at times are what the people need to hear in order to have a change of course in life. We must be confronted with our short comings and adjust our lives around God’s word and will. (I believe this is called repentance and sanctification. 🙂 ) If we as ministers of the Gospel avoid the reality of the hard things in scripture like sin, how will the people know and understand the power of the Gospel? Therefore, We Must Not Avoid the Hard Topics!

5- We Will Keep The Message Relevant!

Let’s face it guys, no matter how much we like to get into the Greek sentence structure of a verse or quote older theologians, most of the people in today’s society just don’t care. When we do go into those things, we bore our congregation because they cannot connect them to the application. So cut it out and give an illustration or make the application for them. Keep The Message Relevant by Relating God’s teaching on what people are working through!

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