Mike Leake on When Should a Pastor Read the Scriptural Text?

When should a pastor read the Scriptural text? As soon as he is ready.

And if you aren’t ready—rather than making the Word of God central to the sermon–something else will take its place.

I am grateful for the resurgence of expository preaching. I believe it is absolutely correct to make the main point of the Scriptural text the main point of the sermon. We’ve all had to endure “sermons” which were no more than the preacher’s opinion; an opinion which, at best, is loosely related to a Scriptural text read at the beginning of sermon time.

The Importance of a Scripture Introduction
But I believe even expository preachers can inadvertently eclipse the text by not spending enough time placing the text. I’m indebted to Bryan Chapell’s excellent work, Christ-Centered Preaching, for developing the practice of preaching a scripture introduction and a sermon introduction.

The purpose of the scripture introduction is to place the Scriptural text. I begin every week by announcing the text and then I attempt to not only create interest for the text but I also work to place the text within it’s context. I think Chapell explains the preacher’s task quite well:

Those eager to read, those scared to read, and those calloused to reading all sit before the minister, who must draw each within the confines of the Word. (Chapell, 250)
But how long does such a thing take? It is here where I probably diverge from a good number of preachers. Chapell says, “if the Scripture introduction labors beyond four or five sentences, it is usually too long”. According to my Logos sermon editor I’ll be twelve minutes into my sermon this week before I read from 1 Peter. That’s a bit longer than normal—but it’s not incredibly unusual for me. And that’s not sloppy it’s intentional.

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Source: Church Leaders