1. The Diving Board
The preacher jumps off the text into the sermon, swims around for 20 to 45 minutes or so and never once returns to the diving board (the text). A passage of scripture is read and is never mentioned again in the sermon.
2. The Patio Furniture
The preacher swims around in the sermon but makes only casual and periodic visits to the patio furniture (the text). Just as the patio furniture is there to compliment the pool, the preacher's text(s) are only there to compliment his sermon in a merely supportive role.
In reality, the text simply does not happen in these sermons. The preacher announces and reads the text, assumes it to be authoritative because it comes from the Bible, and then proceeds to reduce it to a theme.... The real problem here is a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of the biblical text. [The preacher] prostitutes the potent Word of God for the observations, conjectures, and experiences of man.There now remains only one other method. This is the right method. This is the expositor's method:
3. The Swimming Pool
The preacher jumps into the pool (the text) and swims around. He stays long. He gets wet. He goes down deep. He stays down. He stays in the water. "The text is actually the sermon."
Essentially, swimming in the text means 'exposing' the people to God's intended meaning of each text that has been covered up by language, time, culture, social setting, and many other factors. That's the responsibility of the contemporary Christian communicator. [His] primary responsibility is not to give the opinions, indirect implications, or extra-biblical principles but instead to expose the Holy Spirit's intended meaning in each passage of Scripture so that people's minds are exposed to supernatural truth and their lives are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ....
The most effective preaching pastors are those who dive into a passage of Scripture and then beckon their listeners to join them for a swim.