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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 hypercritical 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 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.

Is your preaching too deep or too shallow? What do you struggle with the most?



Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, LifeChurch.tv is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel. He speaks at conferences worldwide and has written several books, including his recent release: Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working

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Chris Vitarelli

commented on May 4, 2011

As a church planter I am walking that line right now. There are both deep and shallow preachers in my community. One of my goals in starting this church was to hit the middle ground. That is proving a greater challenge than I thought. We've already had people come and then go again because I wasn't deep enough. This is a tough issue and it really starts with being sensitive to the Holy Spirit about what we should preach. Ultimately it's between the preacher and God. We have to be convinced that we're preaching the right things first.

James Bailey

commented on May 4, 2011

Good job on this article. It may be that the real problem lies in the fact that there are people in almost every audience that are both biblically literate,(with every level of that designation), and others who are not well grounded in scripture (once again with several levels) and the balencing act comes by our desire to be both true to the Text and not alienate, or disfranchise anyone on either end of the spectrum. Since our directive is to preach the word, we must be sensitive, but not allow the depth or lack of it from the members to deplete the power of that word.

John Craft

commented on May 4, 2011

Great thoughts. As I prepare my messages, I try to keep in the forefront of my thinking that the purpose of preaching is to allow the Word to change lives. Any illustration or insight must further that goal. If not, we are simply communicating information for information's sake or trying to impress our listeners, neither of which accomplishes life-change.

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