Expositional Preaching: A Review

Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today (IXMarks: Building Healthy Churches)  Expositional Preaching by David Helm is a small booklet that explains expository preaching in brief, simple, and clear terms. Motivated by the ministry of Charles Simeon, Helm’s goal in this booklet is to convince readers that the preacher is
“duty-bound to the text” of Scripture.  As Simeon also noted, Helm says the preacher should bring out what is in the text rather than find something that is not there.

There are four main parts of this booklet: 1) Contextualization, 2) Exegesis, 3) Theological Reflection, and 4) Today.  Helm admits that his four parts (including a simple diagram) are based on Edmund Clowney’s diagram found in Preaching Christ in All of Scripture.

Helm’s explanation of these parts is pretty simple.  First, as far as contextualization goes, he says we should not use the sermon text for moralistic reasons, to preach our hobby-horses, or to “inspire” people.  Second, he says preachers should exegete the text, think about context, determine the genre of the text, and find the main theme of the text.  Third, the theological reflection has to do with biblical theology (where the text fits in the history of redemption) and systematic theology (which bible doctrines are in the text).  Fourth, Helm discusses application for today’s listeners.  Preachers have to know their audiences, know their culture, and aim at the listeners’ hearts.  These four points and sub points are a summary of the booklet.

I appreciated this booklet – it was a solid and helpful short review of expositional preaching.  However, there wasn’t much in this booklet that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  If you’ve read some of the classic Reformed/Presbyterian or current books on preaching and the pastoral ministry (i.e. Bridges’ The Christian Ministry; Murphy’s Pastoral Theology; Perkins’ Art of Prophesying; Chapell, Christ Centered Sermons; Johnson, Him We Proclaim;  Logan [ed.] The Preacher and Preaching, etc.) you might not need this booklet unless you are looking for a short review of this topic.  Furthermore, if you’ve had solid seminary training, including good homiletics classes, you probably already learned these basic aspects of biblical preaching.  Reading this booklet made me thankful for my own good seminary training, where I was taught these things from day one.

So who should get this booklet?  It would be a good introductory booklet for new seminary students.  It would also be helpful for those pastors who haven’t had good training in homiletics or haven’t read many solid books on preaching.  Since it is just an introduction, it shouldn’t be the only homiletics booklet we preachers read, but it is a good “starter” booklet for those seminary students or preachers who need a brief intro to expository preaching.

David Helm, Expositional Preaching (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014).

rev shane lems
covenant presbyterian church
hammond, wi