A slight disclaimer, I do want to clarity that I enjoy and appreciate topical preaching. There are great reasons and seasons for both to exist in the life of the church. The four reasons below are the major reasons I choose to continually go back to preaching through books of the Bible. If nothing else, I've found it to be a far easier way to study, prepare, deliver and connect with the text each week. I've found my expository sermons to be far weaker with far less Scripture and far more of my own interpretations. Some of the best sermons I've ever heard that have been the most transformative in my own life have been topical sermons. Here are the four reasons why I enjoy exegetical preaching:
1 - The text leads the content of the sermon. It's tempting to torpedo into different texts and pick out what I would like to preach on each week while neglecting the parts that are more difficult, uneasy or personally too convicting. Preaching verse-by-verse guides me through the content and focuses my attention of the original intent of that passage. Cherry picking verses in-and-out of context is a dangerous game and one that is easy to fall into with the best of intentions. In preaching verse-by-verse, the congregation and I are able to see the verse in context of what is around it as we walk through the text in order.
2 - I am off the hook coming up with ideas. I found out quickly through two years of student ministry and a year of supply preaching that coming up with new topics and sermon series' each week can sometimes get very difficult. Preaching through a book of the Bible leads the topic and takes me off the hook coming up with something new and fresh each week, month or series. Being bi-vocational, my sermon preparation time is often limited and varies week-to-week. I don't have to spend time planning what's next, but can come to the text ready to study.
3 - I can't skip anything. There have been more than a few difficult passages that have come up during the course of preaching through various books this past year at Argo Baptist Church. Thankfully, I'm unable to skip them as it would be overwhelmingly obvious to the congregation and to myself that I've shied away from a passage. It is good to wrestle and dig in together as a faith family when passages get difficult. There is always the slight devilish temptation to skip a particular passage that I know will offend, ruffle feathers or have personal application ramifications. As difficult as some passages are to preach, as the text arrives, it must be preached and simply cannot be overlooked.
4 - The congregation is relatively prepared. As mentioned before, preaching a book at a time allows the congregation to know what verses were preached on and exactly what the content of the next sermon will be. They can read ahead, read around and read any additional materials before if they'd like to be prepared for the sermon. Of course not all go home and anxiously read and study in preparation for the upcoming sermon, but there are great benefits to the church knowing what will be preached each week.