More than 200 current and future pastors learned the best orthodoxy and orthopraxy for their preaching, March 5-6, during Southwestern Seminary’s eighth annual Expository Preaching Workshop. Guest speakers Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary, and Jerry Vines, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., joined preaching faculty for the two-day workshop that focused on shaping the doctrine, development and delivery of sermons.
A repeating theme in each of the sessions revolved around the nature of Scripture as the revelation of Jesus Christ, including the Old Testament. Chapell, author of Christ-Centered Preaching, discussed how all of Scripture bears witness to Christ and thus requires preaching of Old Testament passages to focus on Christ as well.
“A better, Christ-Centered exposition of Scripture does not require us to reveal Jesus by some mysterious allegory or typology but rather identifies how every text functions in our understanding of who Christ is, what the Father sent Him to do, and why. There’s an actual function of the text in this unfolding message of the Gospel that culminates in Christ.
“The goal, as I perceive it, in being expounders of Scripture according to the author’s intent is not to make Jesus magically appear from every detail of Hebrew narrative or poetry but rather to show where every text stands in relation to the person and work of Christ, whose grace achieves our salvation.”
Assistant Professor of Preaching Matthew McKellar agreed during his session on text-driven preaching from the Old Testament. He warned preachers not to avoid expositing Old Testament passages because of their obscurity. Noting that 77 percent of Scripture comes from the Old Testament, McKellar said, “A vacuum of Old Testament preaching is unconscionable for those who claim the Bible to be authoritative and inerrant.”
Additionally, conference speakers challenged preachers to call for a response in their sermons. While recognizing freedom in the methodological approach of how preachers may invite people to respond, this does not excuse common trends toward presenting a passage without a call to action.
“Every time God speaks, a response is expected,” said Steven Smith, dean of the College at Southwestern.
President Paige Patterson echoed these sentiments, saying, “Every sermon you deliver should be preached for a verdict.” Patterson noted that the call to conversion is not the only response a preacher should invite people to, but at the same time, one should never omit a genuine call for repentance and faith.
Conference participants were also exposed to the “nuts-and-bolts” of sermon preparation. David Allen, dean of the School of Theology, explained his step-by-step process of preparing a sermon—allowing the structure and main points of the passage to drive the structure and main points of the sermon.
Vines used his morning session to explain how he developed a sermon on 1 Cor. 15:1-8 and then followed that session by preaching the sermon in chapel. During his sermon, he explained that the passage contains the basic core of the Gospel, highlighting God’s provision for man’s sin problem.
“Christianity is not another set of rules; it is not a philosophy,” Vines proclaimed. “Christianity is a personal relationship with a person none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.”
During a late night session sponsored by First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, seminary preaching faculty joined Chapell and First Euless pastor John Meador for a Q-and-A panel. They fielded questions for pastors and seminary students regarding a variety of preaching and pastoral concerns.
To listen to audio from the workshop, go to swbts.edu/MediaResources.