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Preaching: Too Deep vs. Too Shallow

Many of us were taught that to reach people today, we have to make our sermons simple, practical and relevant. While I agree that all three qualities are important, we must never forget they all must be spiritual to change lives!

In our efforts to reach people far from God, some pastors with good intentions are perhaps making messages too shallow.

When people come to church today, I believe they truly want to know what the Bible says. There seems to be a genuine hunger for God’s Word. Even if a curious non-Christian attends church, most want to hear a biblical message rather than a self-help and feel-good sermonette.

Our American churches today are sadly filled with many biblically illiterate people. Many truly want to learn more. Most prefer to be challenged rather than babied.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what people want. If sin separates people from God, we can’t be afraid to preach about sin, the cross, and the resurrection.

The other extreme can also be dangerous. We have to equally guard against our sermons being too deep.

Some pastors are hyper critical of those who aren’t deep. But sometimes deep can equal boring or irrelevant.

I love studying the meaning of Greek and Hebrew words and find that sharing some with the church to be very helpful. But an overuse of the original languages can become dull.

Similarly, the history and context of a chapter is also often important. Sometimes though, a pastor can spend so much time in the deep end that people drown in unimportant facts.

Two years ago, a very intelligent pastor moved into my community. Many of my friends attend his church. His sermons are so intellectually deep that the average person can’t track with him. His church has lost about 40% of its weekend attendance.

Several people approached him and asked if he could make the messages easier for them to understand. He adamantly opposed explaining that he’d never dumb down God’s word. While I admire his passion, I think he lacks wisdom.

Those who truly have the gift of teaching must guard against over-teaching a text.

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Craig Groeschel is the founder and senior pastor of Life.Church, an innovative church meeting in multiple U.S. locations and globally online. Traveling the world as a champion of The Global Leadership Summit, Craig Groeschel advocates to grow leaders in every sector of society. He is the host of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, the most listened to leadership podcast in the world. A New York Times best-selling author, his latest book is Dangerous Prayers.