Sorry, friend. You are cool: you are very cool. You’re reading a blog, so you must be. However, there is something out there with a cool factor that is beyond you on your best day. It is often rejected because it is misunderstood. It has an impressive track record spanning centuries. It has billions of friends. It is expository teaching. You’re cool, but just not as cool as expository teaching. Here’s why:
1. Scripture is way ahead of you.
The perfect prophetic Word contains prophecies of things that are going to happen. How, then, could we ever consider it outdated? How could reducing the amount of contextualized Scripture in a given message make it more relevant? The more properly contextualized Scripture in your message, the more ahead of the times you are. Therefore, no one could ever be cooler than an expository message; especially a message on Revelation or the deeper chapters in Daniel.
2. People Crave it.
As a Millennial myself, I can attest firsthand that, if more churches would increase their use of the expository approach in small groups and in sermons, they would see more Millennials come to the church as well as come back to the church. Many churches have toned down their emphasis on contextualized Scripture and decreased Scripture volume in their small group and sermon content in an effort to be more appealing, but this approach inevitably must replace Scripture with something less than Scripture. Beginning with Scripture is beginning with what people need more than anything; God’s Word. It is craved because the Spirit causes us to crave it. Those whom churches are striving most ardently to reach crave Scripture but do not even realize it. When they encounter a message whose rockstar is not an illustration, a personality, or clever packaging, but Scripture itself, they find what they have been seeking and craving all along.
3. It hangs out with the coolest people.
Some of our most beloved pastors and thought leaders including Dr. David Platt, Dr. Alistair Begg, Dr. H.B. Charles Jr., Dr. Jon Piper, Dr. David Allen, Dr. Paige Patterson, and Dr. John MacArthur all use the expository approach much if not most of the time. One of the greatest sermons in history that was used by the Spirit to save thousands of people at once, Peter’s message at Pentecost in Acts 2, was arguably an expository sermon on Joel 2. You see, it has a rich history that speaks for itself; which leads us to…
4. It doesn’t care what you think.
I remember learning in grade school that I could seem cooler to my peers if I acted sort of aloof and unimpressed with everything. Now, I couldn’t bring myself to stick with that phase, but it reminds me of an aspect of expository teaching. Rather than pandering to everyone and constantly shape-shifting, expository teaching lays out Scripture in its context and then challenges us to live it out. “This is what God’s Word says. This is what it meant then. This is how it affects us now. Now, how will you deal with it?” This is the nature of the expository approach and it is undeniably cool. In my experience, it is also more respected by skeptical church visitors and is more effective in reaching them than other approaches.
You do not have to choose between teaching in a way that is cool and teaching expositorily. The notion that expository teaching, particularly systematic exegesis through books of the Bible, is automatically less “cool” than other approaches is one of the most regrettable misconceptions of our modern ecclesiastical era. If you are not familiar with expository teaching and want to give it a try, you can learn how to fail at it here. Also, part of the “Freebies” giveaway section at prayeracts.com, the home-base for our initiative toward racial reconciliation in the church, includes 6 messages teaching through every word of the book of Ruth in creative ways.