The Christ-Centered Expositor by pastor and preaching professor Tony Merida provides a comprehensive overview of effective expository preaching that begins with the inner life of the expositor, and then moves to the essential elements of sermon preparation and delivery.
We recently reached out to Merida and asked him what makes a Christ-centered expositor, about falling short in sermons, what overlooked preacher we have the most to learn from, and more.
What best epitomizes a Christ-centered expositor?
A Christ-centered expositor faithfully expounds the word of Christ, and personally adores the Christ of the Word. I emphasize both life and doctrine; affections and intellect; heart and mind; adoration and explanation.
What is the single most important question that a preacher should ask himself when preparing to preach a passage?
There are many important questions before preparing individual sermons, but my overwhelming pastoral burden in general is simply, “Am I faithfully proclaiming Christ to my people?” I believe as people encounter Christ from the Scriptures—in power—they will be transformed more into His image. Therefore the best thing I can do for them is to exalt Jesus from the Word in every sermon.
Have you failed as a preacher if the main point of your sermon is not the main point of the text?
I think failure happens when one fails to preach the gospel. But if one desires to be an expositor, then yes, they have fumbled. Expository preaching allows the main point of the text to drive the sermon. So if one desires to be an expositor, then they will want to show the relationship between the dominant idea of the text and the main point of the sermon. This is a basic starting point for expositors.
Titles of sermons can often be last-minute choices, but you argue that we should be more deliberate in title selection. How so?
I don’t have a very strong opinion on titles, but my point is that it seems sensible to have the title reflect the main point of the sermon. That way, everyone knows what we’re talking about. I know that’s not very creative or attention-grabbing, but my goal is to be simple and clear.
You provide a historical sketch of preaching. In your view, what forgotten or overlooked preacher from the past do we have the most to learn from today?
Charles Simeon. He set a great example for endurance in ministry. He was a lifelong friend of contemporary William Wilberforce. He led a church in Cambridge for about fifty-four years, and left a legacy of faithful expository preaching, and a passion for global missions. His aim in ministry was to “humble the sinner, exalt the Savior, and to promote holiness.”
“Tony Merida’s Faithful Preaching was hands-down my favorite. And now this expanded and revised version is even better! The Christ-Centered Expositor is a must-read for every preacher.”
—Matt Carter, Pastor of Preaching and Vision, The Austin Stone Community Church
“Tony Merida has a reputation across the country for the weightiness of his ministry and the power of his proclamation. This book will show you why the reputation is deserved and will help you build a ministry rooted in the person and work of Jesus.”
—Russell D. Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
“Merida, with the heart of a pastor and the skill of a teacher, proves a great guide for preachers, both aspiring and seasoned. Here is a book that is succinct, pastoral, informative, and challenging.”
—Steve Timmis, Executive Director, Acts 29 Network