June 11

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.


Tags

black expository, black expository preaching, Expositional Sermon, expository black preaching, xavier pickett


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  1. Good expository preaching is not divorced either from cultural or historical concerns. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. It encourages conformity to the biblical point of the text, but allows wide application. Further, Christ is ever-present in the text, and it is the job of the expository preacher to point Him out. The skilled expository preacher will do so. Further, the Holy Spirit empowers His Word to the people, without regard to preaching style.

    Traditional African-American homoletical constructions are based on a distinct preaching format. A good African-American expository preacher knows how to integrate elements of both formats into the sermon (such as parallelism and testimony) making the message, while expository, appealing to the African-American listener.

    My dad was a traditional Baptist African-American homolitician. I am an African-American female expository bible teacher. God used him, and He is using me. The message matters more than the method.

  2. Dr. Bunting,

    I want to thank you for weighing in on this important topic. And I would agree that expository preaching is not necessarily devoid of cultural concerns…It is too bad that some of the proponents of expository preaching take a rather limited view of that kind of preaching. Even to go so far as to question the legitimacy of even referring to cultural concerns at all. Too often those who take this limited view of expository preaching seem to question all other kinds of preaching unless it is in line with their rather limited view.

    One of the blessings of the Black Preaching Tradition is that it has usually not fallen into that trap of such a limited understanding of the preaching moment…I am honored that you took time to come by and discuss this topic…

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