Jeramie Rinne on Expositional Gospel-Preaching (Interview)

rinnePart and parcel of the gospel renewal occurring in New England is a renewed emphasis and commitment to the clear proclamation of the gospel as it is revealed in God’s word. Those in New England who share this emphasis and commitment will be interested to take a look at an upcoming Simeon Trust Workshop on Biblical Exposition being held just south of Boston on February 13-15, 2013. This is a gathering intended to sharpen and hone the preacher’s homiletical sensibilities and skills. Recently, we had the opportunity to hear from one of the primary speakers at the event: Jeramie Rinne, Senior Pastor at South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, MA. 

TGCNE: As a homiletics instructor, what is your estimation of the current state of the evangelical pulpit?

Rinne: My sense is that evangelical pastors still believe in the doctrine of Biblical inspiration. But there’s a disconnect between that doctrine and our actual practice of preaching. As a result, at a certain level we doubt the sufficiency of Scripture. Is scripture alone really enough to save sinners, sanctify the saints and shape the church in a post-Chrisitan, post-modern, high-tech culture? To the extent that pastors doubt sufficiency, they tend to drift toward augmenting preaching with all sorts of things that supposedly bring relevance and impact to today’s culture.

TGCNE: At this past fall’s TGCNE conference you made “An Urgent Plea to Make Expository, Gospel-Preaching the Heartbeat of our New England Churches.” Why is “expository, gospel-preaching” so necessary for the life and health of the church?

Rinne: At its heart, biblical exposition lets the text speak and set the agenda. An expository message is one in which the point of the passage becomes the point of the sermon, which is then applied to the congregation. The preacher “exposes” the text, rather than his own personality, ideas or agenda. This is critical, because Jesus communicates his life and presence to the church through his Word and Spirit. Without Jesus’ Word, the church slowly dies of spiritual starvation. So when we practice exposition, Jesus reigns and works through his Word among his people. And of course, truly expository sermons will be gospel sermons, because the gospel is the central message of the Bible.

TGCNE: As a local pastor, what do you judge to be the long term effects of “week-in, week-out” expositional preaching? What are some of the benefits and/or challenges?

Rinne: It’s hard to overstate the systemic impact in a church of weekly Bible exposition over time. It’s like trying to gauge the long-term physical effects of a consistently healthy diet. Among other things, regular exposition gives your people:

  1. A broad, biblical worldview as you cover a range of texts and issues, including those you wouldn’t naturally pick if you simply preached topically.
  2. Preemptive pastoral counseling as the Bible addresses their lives and hearts (I never cease to be amazed at this).
  3. Unity as the Bible and the Gospel become the center of their fellowship.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, faith in the power of God and his Word as they experience its work in their lives week after week.

Pastoral ministry of course includes much more than exposition. But exposition is the single most important weapon in a pastor’s arsenal for reforming and reviving a congregation.

TGCNE: How have Simeon Trust’s “Biblical Exposition Workshops” shaped you as a preacher? What can an attendee of this upcoming event expect to walk away with?

Rinne: Most pastors assume preaching is their strongest gift. And yet we so rarely do anything to nurture that gift, beyond exercising it weekly. Simeon Trust workshops consistently shows me where I need to grow. They make me more crisp in my thinking about the text and more confident in its power. The best part of a workshop is probably the small group time. Men present their work on texts to be critiqued and encouraged by peers. How often do you get insightful sermon feedback beyond the “Good sermon!” comments from loving church members after a service? If you attend a workshop, expect to walk away with practical tools for exposition, greater awareness of where you can grow as a preacher, new like-minded acquaintances, and renewed urgency to preach the Word!

For more information about the workshop, checkout the registration page.