The Benefits of Consecutive Expository Preaching

 In Jason Bunger, Preaching & Teaching

Although there are many creative ways of preaching today, I am committed to a model of preaching that some call “Consecutive Expository Preaching.”  This process is slow and detailed, but I am convinced that this is the healthiest diet of preaching for a local congregation over time.

Before we discuss the benefits of this model, it would do us well to define what we mean by “Consecutive Expository Preaching.” 

Let’s begin with exposition. “Expository” simply means “to expose” the truth of scripture.  The preacher “exposes” what is in the passage instead of “imposing” what he/she would like it to say. Specifically, Expository preaching is the teaching of a Biblical concept that was gained through a study of a Biblical passage that is applied first to the preacher and then to listener.  The preacher studies a passage deeply, applies it’s to him/herself and then applies it to the audience.   

Consecutive simply means to (usually) go through a book or section of the Bible by preaching a unit at time, applying it to our lives, and then resuming the message series on the following week with the next portion of scripture. 

So, Consecutive Expository Preaching refers to the process of preaching biblical sermons from consecutive passages that are applied to the preacher and then the audience in a consistent manner. 

What are the benefits of Consecutive Expository Preaching?

First of all, Consecutive Expository Preaching allows the scripture to set the agenda for the preaching time.  God’s word is given the priority.  In other words, “When the Bible speaks, God is speaking.” 

I recall a seminary professor telling us once,  “If the inspiration of your sermon is not from the scriptures, then your message is not from God.” As preachers, we have many things that we want to address. It can be so tempting to have a compelling idea or theme, and then go to the Bible to find a passage of scripture to support what we want to communicate to our congregation. This process has a number of dangers.   

First, obviously is that a preacher can misunderstand or even distort God’s word in order to promote a message or agenda, even if it is a noble one.  We can mistakenly make God’s word say what it was never intended to day. 

Secondly, it could be that a compelling theme is not exclusively a Biblical message.  Recently, I heard pastor give a riveting and inspiring message that made me want to radically change my life for good.  It was logical, clear, passionate and moving.  However, although the message was not an “unbiblical” sermon, neither was it Biblical.  It was just “not Biblical.”  What I mean is that he could have preached that same message from Aesop’s Fables, the Dayton Daily News, comments from a TV talk show host or nearly any religious text and it would not have lost it’s impact one bit.  His ideas simply were good morals, it was not God’s message. 

Finally, it prevents the news cycle from hijacking the preaching time. Currently, there are so many cultural and social challenges that are prevalent in our culture that can be tempting to address. A brief pursuing of news headlines can easily demonstrate that we desperately need a word from God. However, there is a new headline every day, and if we are not careful, then we find ourselves letting the media determine our conversation, rather than the word of God.  We must always be demonstrating that we value the word of God by actually preaching the word of God instead of always reacting to culture and being known as the church that is always against something or someone. 

Consecutive Expository Preaching helps ensure that all of scripture is preached. 

Preaching consecutive exposition should make sure that congregation hears all the truths of scripture, not just what is convenient or familiar.  

This safeguards against the preacher’s favorite subject. Every preacher has one subject that he/she is most passionate about preaching.  It might be evangelism, spiritual warfare, giving, prayer, or a particular social issue.  When this person preaches, he/she will almost always preach about this subject, at the neglect of everything else.  However, the expositor is bound to preach what arises in the text that week, even if it is not his/her favorite subject.  This creates a balanced diet of teaching for the congregation. 

It also ensures that the difficult passages are not avoided. Recently we preached about the need for unity in the church. This is not because our church is facing an issue of disunity, but rather because we are preaching through Philippians at this time, and we just happened to be at Philippians 4:2-3. Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about contentment, holy living, and giving. Our congregation knows that we will be discussing these things, not because there are problems in the church, but because these issues occur in the upcoming passages.  This also means that no one should be able to say, “He is talking about me today.”    

This is especially liberating for what some would call the “difficult” passages about the need for repentance, moral living, and the exclusive Lordship of Christ.  A congregation should have an expectation that all areas of life will be fairly and consistently addressed by scripture as they arrive in the passage, not as they arise in our culture. 

Thirdly, Consecutive Expository Preaching models how the each listener can study the bible for his/herself. A congregation should not be completely dependent upon pastors in order to learn to understand the Bible.  When we preach in this manner, we are demonstrating to the congregation how to study the Bible for themselves.   

Fourthly, Consecutive Exposition ensures relevance.  This runs counter-cultural to what many people initially perceive. Some people will say that we need to base our messages on movies, songs, or contemporary expressions. However, this demonstrates two fallacies.  First, it assumes that what is familiar is important.  Secondly, it fails to recognize that the issues and challenges seen in scripture are always relevant. Times may change, but people do not. 

When we look at scripture, we see that people are lost and desperately needing salvation that is found in only Christ alone.  Scripture is filled with sinful people, people suffering from affliction on the outside and guilt on the inside.  Scripture tells the stories the people looking in the wrong place for affirmation, the challenges of dysfunctional families, accounts of the curses brought about by sin and greed. The reason most people don’t find the Bible relevant is that they have already made up their mind that is not relevant and thus don’t seek to understand it’s immediate and eternal relevance. 

Finally, Consecutive Expository Preaching causes the preacher to mature the most.  This may sound self-depreciating or even self-serving. However, growing Christians are led by growing pastors. Consecutive exposition helps the pastor mature in at least three ways.

First, the pastor cannot apply a message to the lives of his audience that he has not first applied to himself.  If he is preaching about (for example) repentance, he has to apply it in multiple ways to his life before he can think of how to apply it to the lives of his listeners.  It is only after he has been changed, that he can expect his listeners to be changed.   

Secondly, by preaching consecutively, the pastor’s time is actually spent studying the passage rather than “trying to find something to preach on Sunday” or trying to be creative. The pastor and the congregation are blessed by his focused time on the immediate passage.   

Finally, the pastor that is not expositing scripture is probably not growing.  Let me explain here.  If I have an idea that I want to preach, and then I simply look for a passage to support that idea, I cannot really learn anything from the text. Why is that?  Because I have already made up my mind what the text means before I look at it. This means that I am not changed by the content for I assume I already know what it says.  However, the true expositor comes to a new passage this week with the understanding that he/she does not know what (or all) it means or implies.  He or she is expecting to pray, labor, understand and apply this passage to his/her life and then, and only then, to the listeners who gather regularly to hear a word from God.

Consecutive Expository Preaching impacts the local church insisting that God’s word is consistently preached, explained and applied in the life of the preacher, the listener and the church body…and every body is served best by a steady, consistent diet. 


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