"What verse?" (my son's impatience and sound preaching)
My son, Christian, whispered this question to me during the middle of the sermon this past Lord's Day. For a moment I was thrilled. At seven years old, Christian usually pays no attention during church service, and complains that sitting still and listening to someone talk is boring. I've been praying that the Holy Spirit would change his heart, so that he would come to love singing praises to Jesus and hearing from God's Word. As Christian looked in my Bible to see which verse the pastor was on, I whispered to him that the sermon was from Matthew 21:12-17, and that the pastor was currently explaining verse 13.
"Oh," Christian said, disappointed. He gave a little sigh and sat back.
I realized then that (despite the fact that-as one of our elders rightly pointed out at the end of service-this was one of Pastor Mitch's very best sermons) Christian wasn't interested in what was being said. Instead, he had figured out that when the pastor reached the last verse in the given passage, the sermon was almost over.
I believe that this observation by my son actually says something quite positive about the preaching we regularly enjoy at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. Our pastor preaches expositional sermons. His sermons explain the main point of the passage from which he's speaking, making the main point of the passage the main point of what he proclaims to the congregation. Furthermore, he moves verse-by-verse through the text, which involves:
1. giving the meaning of each verse;
2. relating each verse to the main point of the overall passage;
3. connecting the passage to the larger (Christ-centered) story of Scripture;
4. applying it all to life today.
Whereas this is not the absolute only way to preach a sound sermon (there are times when a preacher may appropriately trace out a particular doctrine or explore a specific ethical issue from a variety of texts, for example), this method of preaching is useful for making sure that the congregation hears the whole counsel of God's Word. (The preacher committed to the type of preaching described above is less likely to camp out on his favorite subjects, ignore uncomfortable texts, etc.) Incidentally, this means-as Christian observed-that once the end of the text is reached, the end of the sermon is at hand; obviously, the preacher may have some additional words of application from the text, or wish to show more connections to other texts, but the expository preacher is particularly aware that the only message he has for the congregation is the message that God has given to us in His Word.