Cross-cultural value of expository preaching lauded at Southern Seminary’s African-American pastors’ conference

Communications Staff — October 30, 2014

Thabiti Anyabwile, church planting pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., defends the value of expository preaching at an African-American pastors' conference at Southern Seminary, Oct. 27.
Thabiti Anyabwile, church planting pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., defends the value of expository preaching at an African-American pastors’ conference at Southern Seminary, Oct. 27.

Christ-centered expositional preaching is cross-cultural, according to speakers at Southern Seminary’s African-American pastors’ conference, Oct. 27. The conference, held in conjunction with this year’s Expositors Summit, featured African-American preachers Thabiti Anyabwile, H.B. Charles, Victor Sholar, and Curtis Woods.

“We want to preach in such a way that opens the understanding of our people so that their rejoicing is really in the truth,” said Anyabwile, church planting pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

Anyabwile opened the conference with a cultural and biblical defense for expositional preaching. He addressed four topics: popular objections to expositional preaching in many cultural contexts; Nehemiah 8 as a biblical text that models and calls pastors to expositional preaching; the result of the ministry of expository preaching; and how expository preaching answers the objections that are often raised.

Objections, Anyabwile said, include the idea that expository preaching is culturally inappropriate or too intellectual. But expository preaching engages culture, and “all of God’s Word is for all of God’s people. And we may only enjoy God rightly when we understand his Word rightly,” he said.

Expository preaching, or true biblical preaching, is book-centered, for the people, and “true biblical preaching has not happened until the people understand the Bible,” he said.

Anyabwile said that expository preaching means a pastor reads and explains the text until the congregation understands it.

“We get to celebrate from every text the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf in ways that are natural to the text,” he said. “So we haven’t actually expounded the text and done expository preaching until we have understood and helped our people understand how that text relates to Jesus Christ and his finished work on our behalf, because that’s how we go from weeping over our sins to rejoicing in our Savior.”

Sholar, senior pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, spoke to pastors about various elements of expository preaching and pastoral ministry. He preached from James 3 and urged pastors to remember they are judged with a stricter judgment as teachers. He continued, stating that “the instrument of our vocation is our tongue” as pastors. The ability or lack thereof to control your tongue, he said, is one good way to determine a pastoral calling.

Sholar also discussed how preaching is both doctrinal and devotional, and expository preaching challenges how pastors preach because “Christ has a holy passion about how your sermon affects people.” He said that most people want to gain more self-esteem through sermons, but the pastor’s job is to esteem his sheep in Christ.

“Preaching exists solely for the glory of God,” he said. “The only reason God gives a pastor favor is because he wants his Word to be heard and known.”

After Sholar and Anyabwile lectured on expository preaching, Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, preached an expository sermon from Psalm 113. Praise is essential to worship, Charles said. True worship, like what the psalmist exhorts God’s people, inevitably involves praise and is always about God.

In this psalm, Charles pointed out that the call to worship appears three times in the first verse. He offered three points about worship from the psalm: worship is a universal call, Christians should worship God at all times, and they should worship him in all places.

“The believing heart finds many reasons to praise the Lord,” he said, encouraging pastors to remember God sits above everything and sees all things.

The pastors’ conference also featured a panel discussion with Charles, Anyabwile, Sholar, and Kentucky Baptist Convention leader Woods. The panel discussed sermon preparation, influential pastors and authors, and other areas of pastoral ministry.

Audio from the conference is available at

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