Mark Dever and Expository Preaching

Tuesday is for Preaching

Image created by Sarah Danaher with a Canon EOS 5D MkIIIn the year 2000, Mark Dever came out with his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Today, Mark is a house-hold name, a luminary on the evangelical conference circuit. He is a fine and thoughtful expositor of the word and a wonderful throw-back to another age when pastors were theologians and teachers rather than CEO’s.

But back then his “star” had not yet risen. He was invited to come to Trinity Seminary in Deerfield (properly, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, or TEDS) to give a lecture. Somehow, I had gotten contact with him prior to his coming and had been invited to attend a “meet and greet” Mark Dever. When I arrived, I was the only person to show up! [That’s what I mean when I say, his “star” had not yet risen. Today, there would be hundreds at such an event.]

What ensued was a good 90-minute discussion of his book and the “nine marks of a healthy church.” I frankly have forgotten most of what we talked about and I am sure that Mark Dever wouldn’t remember or know me from Adam. But I do remember one thing. “Marty, frankly,” he said and then paused to gather his thought. “… if you are committed to expository preaching, faithfully teaching the authoritative intention of passage after passage, you will have a healthy church.”

I thought then and I still think that Mark is right. True expository preaching will produce healthy churches. Not perfect churches, not flawless churches, not necessarily large churches, or fast growing churches but healthy churches.

So because today is Tuesday and I post about preaching on Tuesdays, here’s a quote from Mark Dever on what expository preaching is and isn’t.

“Expository preaching is preaching in service to the Word. It presumes a belief in the authority of Scripture—that the Bible is actually God’s Word; but it is something much more than that. A commitment to expository preaching is a commitment to hear God’s Word–not just to affirm that it is God’s Word but to actually submit yourself to it. the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles were given, not a personal commission to go and speak, but a particular message to deliver. Likewise, Christian preachers today have authority to speak from God only so long as they speak His message and unfold His words. As loquacious as some preachers may be, preachers are not commanded simply to go and preach. they are commanded specifically to go and preach the Word. That’s what preachers are commanded to preach.” (p. 26-27)
Marty Schoenleber, Jr. is the founding pastor of one church, the church planting trainer/mentor of over 200 other church planting pastors. He has been adjunct professor of Church Planting at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and has taught Preaching at the International School of Theology, and Evangelism at Moody Graduate School of Theology.  His latest book is Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official (CrossBooks, [June 2012]). Today he serves Manchester Creek Community Church in Rock Hill, SC. To enjoy a free subscription to his blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest reflections on church planting, Biblical Expositions and musings about church, culture and spiritual formation. Follow Pastor Marty on twitter @1Chosenrebel4JC

3 thoughts on “Mark Dever and Expository Preaching

  1. My dear brother Marty,

    I love excellent expository preaching. It has been a staple for me for countless years. The personal benefit would be difficult to measure.

    Marty, we have had some wonderful discussions on discipleship. You correctly pointed me to Mark 3:14, which gives to us the quintessence of Christ’s discipleship method, “that they might be with him.” I don’t believe the Gospels give evidence that the centerpiece of discipleship for Christ was “expository preaching.” Healthy effective discipleship must have as one of its core components the relational aspect.

    You are likely aware of churches where the pastor is considered a great expositor of scriptures and yet those pastors would evaluate their churches as being ineffective in disciple making as well as reaching their communities with the Gospel. Similarly, I would imagine you know of churches where no one would evaluate the pastor as an expository preacher yet the church is effective in making disciples. And because of their healthy discipleship ministries these churches are reaching their communities with the Gospel. BTW – If I had to make a choice between the two the latter would be my choice.

    My concern in posting this reply is that some do equate “expository preaching” as the sole ingredient that produces a healthy church. I would even venture to say that “true expository preaching” per se will at best produce anemic churches.

    What are your thoughts?

    Together for the Gospel,



    1. BTW – I read this blog post once from a friend who said, “MacArthur and Osteen are pastors of the same type of church.” This post went on to say,”these churches are built on the idea …if we have cleaner bathrooms, better advertising, preach expositionally…The unintended consequence of ministry structured in this way is that those we are called to equip for the work of the ministry begin to think that ministry is that which occurs within the sanctified hours and confines of our church buildings.”

      Love you my brother.


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