Kent Philpott, a pastor in Mill Valley, California, shares thoughts on teachers and preachers
We can easily agree that the primary purpose of the church is to worship our Lord. It is generally agreed also that central to that worship is the teaching of Scripture and proclamation of Jesus Christ both to Christians and unbelievers (some of whom God may call to himself).
In order to better engage in this work – though it took me two decades to think of this – I have arranged our Sunday morning worship to include both a ten-minute exposition of a biblical passage and a sermon. This has worked so well for me and those who do the expositions that I felt I should share the idea with others.
For many years I as pastor was the one who did both the exposition and sermon. It helped me and kept both me and the congregation in the Word. Then, as need arose to train others in teaching and preaching, the exposition part of the service was assigned to others.
At present we have five teachers who are engaged in this work on a rotating basis. Presently we are going through the Gospel of Matthew, section by section. The teachers are instructed to keep the exposition to ten minutes, and most importantly, it is to be an exposing of the Scripture passage – and not a sermon.
What it says
My continual exhortation is that we are not in this part of the service telling our congregation what to do, but are explaining, as clearly and succinctly as possible, what God says in his Word.
Mostly this works, but there is the need for continuing education in this task. It turns out that sometimes exposing Scripture is more difficult than preaching a sermon!
Then there is the sermon, usually preached by myself. Just now, I am turning the pulpit over one Sunday every six weeks to one of the teachers and these are having opportunities also to preach a sermon on Sunday evenings, based on texts that I provide.
You see, I am hoping to retire in three or so years and I am thinking God may raise someone up from within the congregation to replace me. Therefore I must provide the training.
Something else I stumbled across some years back is to talk through the sermon I have prepared for a Sunday morning service with a small group, like an adult Sunday school class.
Then I realised that what was good for me might be good for the Bible exposition teacher. Now we do both, and it is proving to be quite helpful. Not that I totally rely on what others comment, but it seems that my sermons have gotten better. I know the Bible teachings have gotten better, too.
Maybe my experience might benefit other pastors in their work of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry, especially that of preaching and teaching.