Expository Black Preaching?

Xavier Pickett over at Reformed Blacks of America has done it again. He has presented a concise attack on the status-quo from the perspective of the Black Preaching Tradition.

He states:

The goal of preaching is not expositional preaching, but rather to present and proclaim Christ as resurrected.

This is great preaching in the Black Tradition. It seeks to proclaim Christ. Certainly the best of any preaching tradition does this, but often times as noted by Pickett, we often use “expository” approaches to hide us from interaction with real life problems and issues.

All Preaching is Contextual

Pickett continues:

The fact of the matter is that expository preaching is relative, especially to the preacher’s context/audience. We all know this. Reformed preachers disagree with one another all the time over what constitutes an expositional sermon. So why in the world do Reformed people, especially some Black Reformed folks put such a premium on expository preaching as if this is the only “biblical” way to preach, even though, it has no command/sanction in the Scripture itself?

All preaching is contextual. Preach the gospel and stop attempting to put down other preachers who are probably demonstrating God’s active involvement in contemporary history than many of us.

Gospel is center to All Preaching

Pickett continues:

I would suggest, contrary to popular opinion, many sectors of the Black Church are probably more true to apostolic preaching than many White (Reformed) churches because of its basic commitment to answering [the question] “what does the gospel of Jesus Christ have to do with real concrete struggles and evils,” especially among the poor and marginalized, and not without mobilization and action. In contrast, many conservative White churches are usually caught up with preaching “expositionally” through a book/chapter and stuck in the realm of ideas and debates that hardly have any material-redemptive significance. Often times it seems as though preaching through a book of the Bible or chapter is used as an excuse not to engage current issues and evils in the world. And what is even more striking on the other side of the fence among Black conservatives, as long as I have been under and heard evangelical/Reformed Black expository preaching, I cannot ever recall a sermon on HIV/AIDS, low expectations, or the cradle to prison superhighway that affect many Black folks. So from the looks of things, most Black expositors are succumbing to the same inherent problems of expository preaching just like their White counterparts probably because it was primarily invented for their context. Therefore, expository preaching is parochial pedagogical advice, not a universal divine mandate.

Yes…Yes….I need to be confronted where I am…I need to be challenged where I am…and I need to be comforted where I am. I don’t need a doctrinal formulation that is irrelevant to my daily existence. If you teach me doctrine, show me how it is relevant to my living in the real world. I came to hear the Gospel of God’s salvation within my context not to hear a lecture on some esoteric doctrine.

Do We Need more Eurocentric-Black preachers?

Pickett continues:

Contrary to most Black Reformed people, the Black church do not need more Black preachers who are socialize to merely preach expositionally like their White counterparts. Historically and presently, the Black church has done an excellent job in cultivating brilliant Black preachers. So why in the world would we rather conform to Western European male homiletics and trade in one of our significant gifts to the church, if it truly manifests the beauty and redemption of Christ to his church? That would be like asking Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I Have A Dream” speech to speak from a particular chapter or text from the Bible verse by verse in a certain manner while still having the same redeeming effect instead of the way God originally lead him. Therefore, what the church could use is a type of preaching that is connected to Black church traditions and the broader church. It is more theologically indigenous, dialogic in nature and prophetic in its ethos. In other words, what the church could use is chocolate milk preaching!

“Chocolate Milk Preaching!” You bringing in Xavier. God bless and keep it up…

In the end, you can Preach expository sermons or not, but whatever you do, connect to the people. Show them how God is working today, and then let them know of God’s expectations today in their own context. Now some argue that “expository preaching” is nothing but “Biblical preaching.” That may or may not be true, at this point we are just talking semantics. Some of us may be “expository” preachers while we think we are not, and vice versa may be the case as well. In any case, be true to the text, speak to the people, connect to the Spirit. If you do that, you are “preaching” all else is something else, even if you call it a certain kind of preaching.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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