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What Expository Preaching Is Not

December 12, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

I should follow more of H.B. Charles Jr.  Whenever I come across his work, I find his boldness and clarity to be a breath of fresh air.  He articulates well the undefined passion in my heart.  When I do stumble across H.B Charles Jr., he’s heralding the joys and urgencies of “Expository Preaching”. 

“Expository Preaching” is often a loaded term; It is the locker room talk of pastors.  They brag about how “expository” they are like football players talk about touchdowns.   And when they want to throw shade at another pastor, they say that pastor’s preaching isn’t “true expository preaching”. 

I know there are some traditions that resist the expository title, but in the Reformed circles I run in,  everyone likes to think of themselves as “expository”.  But if we stretch this term too broadly it loses any relevant meaning.

H.B. Charles Jr. offers clear definition to “expository” by 15 succinct statements of what it’s not.  This helps move us closer to what “expository” rightfully is.  I personally hope to see this article paired a list of positive statements, as the “are not’s” are only one side of the coin.  H.B. Charles Jr. does write about the positives in other places, but I’m curious if he will do one as succinct as he has with his “are not’s”.

My takeaway:  What would the church look like if the people in the pews understood the art of preaching?  How might pastor’s grow when authentically held responsible?

I don’t think every sermon needs to be expository, but I want most of my preaching to be so.  I know there are ways I fall short of preaching’s full potential.  But with loving and intelligent partners in the pews, I and other pastors can grow.  And when “expository preaching” is ­­amplified, then the Word of God is magnified, and God himself is glorified.

Tags: Bible, Preaching
Posted in Theology

Why Did Weekly Classes for Children at Church Begin?

November 30, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

So far I’ve only read the first in this three-part series, but it’s certainly caught my attention.  It is a well worth historical look at children’s ministry within the church.

The author seems to be looking for a balance between age-segregated discipleship (where churches offer programs based on their age group) and family-integrated church (where there are “no youth ministers, children’s ministers, or nursery).

I agree with the sentiments of the author, there are many dangers of age-segregated discipleship that we should recover from.  However, I’m skeptical of the extreme pendulum swing that some are proposing.  Knowing the historical “why?” of children’s may help us strike that balance.

The author knows how to win over the heart of a reformer, by asking WWJCD (What Would John Calvin Do)?  John Calvin believed that the historical roots of Christianity practiced catechism training of their children, but that this practice was lost by the Roman Catholic Church.

John Calvin attempted to recover catechism teaching in his church.  His belief was that catechism was primarily the responsibility of parents within the home.  Then around the age of 10, children would meet with the pastor so that their doctrine could be examined.  This was not a graded pass-or-fail test.  Its purpose was to further hone the children’s understanding of God and to ensure there were of the teaching.  So instead of being the primary teacher, the pastor’s responsibility was to tie up any loose ends.

My Takeaway:  I deeply love John Calvin’s approach to the catechism of children.  Catechism should primarily be the responsibility of the parents.  The biggest reason for this is that children learn to love the love of their parents.  And if children never see their parents care about doctrine while at home, it is highly unlikely that the children will care about doctrine while they are a church.

The practical question parents ask is what catechism training looks like in the 21st century home.  For this I strongly recommend  This is what we use in our home and it even comes free online or with an app on your smartphone.  It is the Heidelberg Catechism condensed into a (mostly) tweetable form.  The shortened form can realistically be memorized by kids.  Even our two-year-old has learned many of the answers.

Every night after family dinner we ask each of the kids a previous question for review.  Then we review this week’s question-and-answer and staying on that same question for an entire week.  Each lesson comes with a Bible verse and a prayer that the big kids take turns reading.  The app comes with the children’s mode which includes a song to help memorization.

If you have young kids, I strongly recommend using the children’s mode in your home.  If you don’t have young kids, I strongly recommend you use the standard version for yourself.  It’s been a blessing for our family!

Posted in Family

The most comprehensive critique of theistic evolution

November 15, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

This video comes with a big claim “The most comprehensive critique of theistic evolution.”  But to their credit, this is the most comprehensive critique of theistic evolution I’ve ever come across.

The only piece of the argument I wish they included was how foundational premise of Darwinism prevents macro-evolution from occurring.  The heart of Darwinism is “survival of the fittest.”  However, any mutation of a healthy organism is inherently less fit for survival. 

For example, a cat with opposable thumbs would be more fit for survival, but babies of normal cats are not suddenly born with functional thumbs.  It takes thousands of years of random accidents in the right direction before those thumbs are an advantage.  Until those thumbs are complete, any mutation would be a deformity and a disadvantage.  Darwinism demands that the mutation will not pass on its genetic code.

My Takeaway:  Why do we as Christians feel the need to bow to the unsupported theories of those who goal is to create a godless world? 

I’m reminded of the archeologists who said there was no historical evidence for King David or other parts of the Bible, only to have the proof eventually uncovered.  If the Biblical narrative of a creator God is true, then we must be patient and let time sort through what is fact and what is fiction.  And it appears that time is revealing Darwinism to be the fiction.

Posted in Apologetics

8 Contrasting Signs of an Insecure Leader

October 31, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

I really like this insight by Jared C. Wilson.  We are quick to notice the insecurities of quiet, anxious people.  However, we often overlook the way insecurity can also drive people to appear confident and loud.  I know this is true because I’m one of those loud, insecure people.

It seems so backward that such strong sounding people can feel so weak internally.  Yet this strength is merely an overcompensation.  The more confident they are on the outside, the more likely they are insecure on the inside. 

My Takeaway: Loving the “confident” insecure is tricky because the slightest criticism can unleash a tidal wave of their own self-loathing (and they will be happy to direct it in our direction).  However, praising them will only feed their dysfunction.

Yet, the love these leaders need is same as everyone else: the love of Jesus Christ.  Jesus sees us in our brokenness and still loves us.  Loving like Jesus is not about pretending we don’t have problems; it’s about loving broken people. 

Let’s build a community where people are free to express our brokenness because our confidence is in Christ.

Tags: Leadership
Posted in Leadership