The truth about deeper messages

Chances are, if you’ve spent anytime in Youth Ministry, you’ve been criticized for not being “deep” enough.

I remember hearing this from my Sr. Pastor several years ago, who laughed the student off because he knew we were wrapping up a 6 week series on Exodus, after having done 4 weeks in Esther, and we were going to be in Revelation coming up. The content was plenty deep enough, so there must have been a different issue as to why this student wasn’t coming to Youth Group.

Its easy to blow off this type of criticism when we know we are going plenty deep in our sermons. As the ones who are preaching, we know the amount of time we spend wrestling with a text, preparing the message to impact our students’ lives and hopefully make a difference for them. We know the effort that goes in, and the lessons being taught, and like my Sr. Pastor above, it’s easy to know that more often than not, the student using this excuse has something else that is keeping them from “growing.”

But a good leader and a great Youth Pastor will always seek to find the seed of truth in criticism. So that leads to the question…how can we go deeper with our messages?

I was talking with a person from our town recently, and he mentioned a few weeks back that his family had stopped attending a church nearby after 15 years and now attends the campus of a local megachurch. When I asked him what led to that, knowing how hard it can be for a family to up and switch, we had a great conversation that really opened my eyes.

His answer was short, to the point, and simple. “We wanted something deeper.”

We started talking about how peculiar that may be, as this megachurch is not known for deep theological preaching, but I fully agree with him that it’s one of the deepest teaching churches I’ve ever attended. In each of the 3 churches I’ve worked at full time, I’ve heard countless criticisms of this specific church for how shallow they are, but I can vouch in the 6 months of messages I’ve sat through, I’ve heard more theology, more depth, and more Bible than in 10 years of these other pastors.

Then the truth about going deeper in our messages hit me.

It’s not just about the exegesis, and it has nothing to do with how much time we spend explaining each individual word in each sentence of a verse. The best exegesis will fall short if there is no emphasis on the impact of it all.

We can easily spend so much time studying a passage and explaining it in “the deepest way possible” to our students that we miss entirely the impact it has on their life today and tomorrow.

You’ve probably said this yourself at some point, or are at least familiar with the phrase – “transformation over information.” That’s exactly what we can often miss out on. Next time a student says they want deeper teaching, maybe this is what they are talking about.

So what are some practical tips for preaching the impact of a text?

  1. Help students see themselves in the passage.
  2. Focus on what the text is saying that is different than how we think.
  3. Give clear directions on what to do about it.
  4. Invite students to make the change
  5. Check out this sermon application grid for an idea to help work through your sermon in a deeper way.

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