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March 05, 2009


Robert Prusa

Many times I find it difficult to articulate exactly why I am not a huge A. Stanley fan. I guess I will not have that problem any longer as he has said and explained it quite well himself. Being that he is a pastor you would hope he had at least done as much study as I have on the methods of some of the greatest preachers of the past, who did verse by verse exclusively.

I guess next he will be calling it cheating to open the Bible in personal solo communion with God as well, hindering growth. Maybe I am being extreme, but the his comments seem so as well.


While i agree with Robert on my "gut" reactions to A. Stanley, my gut reaction to his comments here seems to be agreement. I'll explain:

It is lacking in inspiration, creativity, and thoughtfulness to simply run through scripture and teach on verses by books. I don't think the Bible was meant to be worked through like that. I think the scriptures were meant to be used to wrestle through. While i have no problem with teaching systematically through scripture, i've sat through many sermons that are simply a pastors commentary through a book.

That's fine, but simply hearing a pastor's insights means nothing. A pastor would be much better served in wrestling with the scriptures himself and then sharing God's word with congregation.

Matt Adair

Adam, then why was the Bible written as books, stories and letters rather than topics?

I won't disagree with you that there has been a lot of bad expositional preaching. But all you have to do is listen to most of the sermons on GodTube and find bad topical preaching.

Truth is that some of the best communicators I know - guys like Matt Chandler in Dallas, Daniel Montgomery in Louisville, and Darrin Patrick in St. Louis - primarily preach consecutively through books of the Bible. If you haven't checked some of those guys out, I'd encourage you to look them up on podcast.

And as someone who preaches that way myself, I can tell you from first-hand experience that there's a whole lot of wrestling through the Scriptures that goes on every week and I've never been accused of being irrelevant.

My biggest problem with all of this is that it gets in the way of some very good things Andy has to say about communication. I'd love for guys who aren't very gifted at communication to read 'Communicating for Change' but when you call someone lazy and a cheat? Not particularly helpful.

Jimmy Davis

Matt, one might be inclined to agree with your assessment that Andy's statement is "biblically, theologically, historically, methodologically and culturally foolish" if you would explain how his statement is each of those things.

Jimmy Davis

Sorry, I was interrupted by a house full of children. I didn't mean to cut it so short. I just wanted you to more fully explain what you mean. Thanks!

Matt Adair

Jimmy - no worries.

Biblically - I'd start with the normative method of passing along the Scriptures at least into the early church - one reached maturity by learning the Torah word for word. Jesus proved that he was the Messiah by walking two followers through the Law and Prophets on the road to Emmaus.

Theologically - If the Scriptures are the words of God (given in the way he intended to pass it along) then the idea that actually teaching/preaching those words in the order given by God is cheating seems, well, foolish.

Historically, there have been men in every period of church history who preached consecutive exposition with great fruit.

Methodologically, there is nothing about consecutive exposition that ignores Andy's primary purpose in communication. Every text addresses a problem that must be solved.

How about this - what if it's no less lazy to simply cherry pick texts that obviously address problems than to dig into the context of an obtuse text and find diamonds that drive people to Jesus and the cross?

Culturally, one of the fastest growing segments in Christianity is the new Calvinism which is led by men who primarily preach consecutive exposition.

Now let me be clear - my issue is not with Andy's method as much as with the unfortunate and unecessary language he used in this interview and has used in other venues to essentially toss aside a form of communication that has and continues to move many from unbelief to belief to maturity in Jesus.

Jimmy Davis

Thanks, Matt. That's helpful.

Frank McKinley

I'll admit I don't know much about Andy Stanley. But as I see it, if you are willing to hold to the view that all of Scripture is profitable for teaching and developing people, as told in 2 Timothy 3:16, then I agree with your statement, Matt. Why would any part of the Bible not be relevant?

Of course, my favorite pastor aside from you is Charles Spurgeon. He could write 8 pages on one verse and not bore you for a minute. The amazing thing is that those words are as applicable today as they were then. So, if you are a teacher and you want to be relevant now or 100 years from now, what better source of information is there than the whole Bible?

If it's cheating to consult the Bible for counsel on how to live, count me among the most fiendish of thieves.

Matt Adair

Frank - thanks for the note. To be fair, I don't think the issue is that Andy isn't biblical. My problem really isn't with what he does as a communicator - just in his opinion of how other people communicate.


I suppose the next thing out of his mouth will be that anyone that doesn't go to one of Northpoint's countless video "churches" (aka McChurch) is not really going to church...honestly--he can;t possibly believe that


I'm just wondering how he can get away with the "that's too easy" assertion. If you are careful in your exegesis, it is not always easy at all. In fact, I am teaching through 5 chapters of Isaiah every week and it is hard work to wrestle through the context inductively to get at the intended meaning of the text. As for "that's not how people grow" - WHA???? That's one of the main ways in which people grow, and the lack of exposition in many of our churches is a primary reason for the immaturity that is so rampant. One last thought - I know Andy puts a lot of stock in being creative with his messages. I'm wondering, when did the Bible become boring? Or need our creativity to spruce it up or make it culturally relevant?


How in the world can you exposit five chapters of Isaiah each week?

I think Andy objects to the unfounded (historically,theologically in example etc) belief that Systematic Expository Teaching is the ONLY way to preach. Such a belief is held naively around some groups and there is no solid foundation for such.

Verse by verse expository preaching is no doubt a great teaching method but in the examples of Christ, the Apostles, early church etc it was either totally absent or rare. It has only risen with the rise of western logical methodology which is twinned with academia.

hmm just noticed this thread is way old but such is life :)


I was thinking on the same subject today. Even Jesus' march through the OT with the two on Emmaus was not to teach the Torah but to illustrate how the OT pointed to the Messiah. That to me seems more topical than verse by verse exposition.

In fact, if we were to use Jesus' methodology, he spoke topically rather than exegeting consecutive Torah passages. His longest discourses seemed to be in response to offline questions by his disciples rather than public addresses.

Having lived under expositional, verse-by-verse teaching, unless you make a clear connection with last week's message and position next week's message, I had a hard time seeing any real connection between the sermons - it may as well have been topical because I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

Having preached both ways myself, I found it much harder to put together a 3 or 4 part series that drove a message home than to preach through a book of the Bible where for the most part, the sermon consisted of a bunch of points from personal study. And it hardly inspired anyone to do anything in regards to the message that was delivered.

Yeah, I read the book too and I found it helpful and challenging.

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