Ed Stetzer Says Preaching Verse-by-Verse Through Bible is Risky

In a roundtable discussion sponsored by Lifeway’s Gospel Project curriculum discussed the upsides and downsides of expository, verse-by-verse preaching. The SBC-owned propaganda wing, the Baptist Press – in a story entitled Preaching through Bible has Risks, Pastors Say – reports…

Many pastors believe tackling Scripture verse by verse from the pulpit is the only acceptable approach, said moderator Ed Stetzer, general editor of The Gospel Project.

But that view may be different from the pews, the four panelists agreed. Continuity is broken if people don’t attend every service — and “I can guarantee you during football season you’re going to have people who are there every third Sunday,” said Chip Henderson, pastor at Pinelake Church in Jackson, Miss.

A lengthy series of sermons can leave newcomers “feeling like they’re catching the movie in the middle,” said H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

Well, no doubt Chip Henderson has church members (we won’t presume upon their salvation and call them Christians, as it seems to be a doubtful presumption) who will only be at church once every third Sunday during football season? Yeah. I can guarantee you that guy doesn’t want the pastor expositing a text on Sunday. In fact, that guy doesn’t want to be at church at all because that guy is lost. But hey…he doesn’t like that type of preaching. Oh, a God forbid we leave newcomers “feeling like they’re catching a movie in the middle.” So, for the lost church member and the newcomer, we’re best left with topical sermons that will no doubt catch their fancy like shiny objects to dull-minded wits. Something flashy, entertaining, engaging, provocative, relevant, whimsical…

Stetzer continued…

“Most important, Stetzer said, a demand for expository preaching may discourage pastors in developing countries who lack the academic training to analyze every verse. We live in a world that needs a lot more serious expository preaching. But when we hold this out as a norm across all cultures and times — a biblical principle that must be done — we impose a foreign model that is not found in Scripture.”

I’ll let the P&P contributors take on the absurd claim that expository preaching is a “foreign model that is not found in scripture” (which surely they will), but my goodness…there’s nothing that will allow those in “developing countries” to better be able to analyze every verse like practicing and hearing expository preaching. And frankly, I don’t think it’s those in “developing countries” that most struggle with being able to analyze each verse. It’s those who grew up on Lifeway literature and products in typical American evangelical church that may struggle most with scriptural analysis.

Remember this post we did about Andy Stanley’s bashing of expository preaching? You might read it again to see that this type of insult toward expository preaching from product-peddlers is systemic. Exposition, of course, is counter-productive to the careers of both Andy Stanley and Ed Stetzer.

The truth of the matter, for why Stetzer would so shamelessly disregard expository preaching, should be clear.

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For these guys, exposition is their competition. Be on guard, beloved. Merely from Lifeway’s inventory we can know that these men cannot be trusted.


[Contributed by JD Hall]


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