Well of course we would never reduce Sundays to entertainment, but I've been in many churches where I've heard people say, "We need more teaching," and I've often wondered what they mean by that. In many ways the church is over taught and under experienced. Our lives don't live up to our knowledge. Except they do if our knowledge is only shallow.
So, maybe what we need is not more teaching but more depth. Depth not in the sense of more information about original languages and building layers of supporting Biblical references, but in the sense of a deeper connection with a growing spiritual life. A deepening of the soul, if that's a valid concept.
In thinking about this I was interested in an article that appeared on the Christianity Today website about deeper preaching. The article suggests five kinds of deep sermons:
- Biblical depth
- Intellectual depth
- Experiential depth
- Cultural depth
- Applicational depth
Several things strike me. First you can't do all of these, and maybe you shouldn't try to them all, in a single sermon. Second, why would you try to them all every time. It's interesting to think about all the factors that come into play when you are both preparing to preach and actually delivering a sermon.
Personally I find that I write more notes these days in order to keep myself on track. Sometimes I develop my sermons a little like a mystery story. Trying to find the question that a text or theme raises and then seeking to unfold the answers. Other times it's more about presenting the flow of an idea that runs through the passage and the context. I'm keen too to connect the small things with the bigger picture. It's easy to forget the big theme of the bible in order to focus on the small thing. How does grace impact on how we interpret passages about discipline, about divorce and about a thousand other things?
Anyway, the article is worth a read and something to which I will return and give some more thought.