Is Expository Preaching the Key to a Healthy Church?

Tuesday is for Preaching

Mark Dever in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, lays out his list of what it takes to have a healthy church. According to Mark, they are:

  1. Expository Preaching
  2. Biblical Theology
  3. The Gospel
  4. A Biblical Understanding of Conversion
  5. A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
  6. A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership
  7. Biblical Church Discipline
  8. A Concern for Discipleship and Growth
  9. Biblical Church Leadership

In his first chapter on Expository Preaching he says this:

“The first mark of a healthy church is expository preaching. It is not only the first mark; it is far and away the most important of them all, because if you get this one right, all of the others should follow.” (p. 25)

Other authors may have a different list. Yours may be quite different or phrased with more evocative language, but my personal experience is that he is on target with his first mark of a healthy church—expository preaching.

Your church will be healthy, not problem free, but healthy, if you as a preacher, you, as a church leader, you, as a church planter commit yourself to the hard task of expositing the Scripture with integrity and faithfulness. Avoid getting shallow in your study and hollow in your preaching. Protect your study time. Draw near to God. he will draw near to you. “Preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke and exhort with all patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2)

3 thoughts on “Is Expository Preaching the Key to a Healthy Church?

  1. I would say no. It could be one of the ways to a healthy church, but it’s more of a choice of the Pastor as he hears from God. I think such a strong definitive statement says, “all those who preach expositorially and topically or just topically aren’t healthy.” I think that’s a stretch.


  2. Artie,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure Dever is saying anything like your quote however. Appreciate your blog.

    For everyone: here’s a link to yet another blog about six advantages of preaching expositionally. (

    Additional comment: Some who call themselves expositional preachers are vapid, tedious, uncreative and arrogant. That is not what Dever is advocating. Also, a message can be topical and expositional.


  3. It’s a list that makes me think. Preaching/teaching the Word of our Lord must be at the forefront of a healthy church. The author’s words don’t allow me to grasp his whole intention here, but I suggest that the real issue is not so much the words which come from the lips of the speaker, but rather the level of ‘wrestling with God’ to know His Word …and to know it deeply requires a expositional style of prep.

    It is my experience that when the pastor does the hard, deep work the result…whether delivered in a expositorial, topical or combinational style … will impact the listener as God intends while also moving the pastor to a place of understanding he could have never known.


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