What is Expository Preaching?

And Why are We Deeply Committed to It?

What is Expository Preaching?

The apostle Paul told his protégé Timothy to “Preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2).” Scripture places a high priority on the act of public proclamation. Every pastor that feels the weight of Sunday approaching makes front-end decisions on sermonic approach. There are basically three main ways to preach a message. Storyline passionately believes in the third option listed below.

Topical Preaching

This is the most common form of preaching today. Here, the pastor announces his subject upfront—usually a felt-need such as finances, family life, or relationships. In the next 30-45 minutes, he pulls multiple verses from various places in the Bible providing a sample of what God has said on this matter. Most of the message consists of stories and down-to-earth illustrations.

Textual Preaching

In this method of preaching, the pastor usually starts by reading a verse from the Bible, then delving into this general subject. Unlike topical preaching, he’s not hopping around the Bible, but uses that one main Scripture to set the course for what he feels needs to be said.  A verse from 1 Cor. 13 on love, for example, would indicate to the congregation that the next half hour will be focused on inspiring the hearer to higher levels of self-sacrifice. Hence, in textual preaching, the Bible is a resource for the sermon, but not the source.

Expository Preaching

In stark contrast to topical and textual preaching, an expository sermon demonstrates a strong commitment to Scriptural authority. The word expository may sound sophisticated, but it simply means “to expose or to explain.” Hence, the goal of an expository preacher is to:

  1. Read aloud a significant chunk of Scripture (usually a few paragraphs)
  2. Explain what those words meant to the original audience
  3. Extract the timeless principles and applications for modern people.


In this way, the expository preacher is a servant of the Word. The goal of the message is to speak what God has spoken, and to resist what D.A Carson calls “the gagging of God.” In faithful exposition, the loudest voice in the room becomes God’s voice, who alone transforms the human heart.

The bottom line: the authority of a sermon should lie in the text, and not in the teacher. For this reason, Storyline Fellowship is committed to expository preaching.