In the Christian Church world there is a topic of conversation that comes up nearly every time a church is critiqued. How “deep” is the preaching?
It sounds like a great question to ask. But it isn’t. It isn’t because it becomes something that people hide behind and use to couch their own biases and opinions. If I don’t like a sermon then I’ll tell you it wasn’t deep enough. I may even go so far as telling you that it was shallow. But it is probably more a reflection on my opinion and less a reflection on the content of the message. Yet I wonder how many people have left a church under this disguise?
Now I know that some of you may be thinking: “Aren’t we supposed to critique sermons like this?” The answer is no. You are supposed to critique a sermon to see if the content aligns with Scripture. Not that it met your own personal expectations for how you like to listen to someone talk about the Bible.
Consider this, how do you define a deep sermon? Think of the following criteria that could (and does) get used to make this analysis:
- Does it need to be theologically complex?
- Does it need to be academically complex?
- Does it need to be Biblically complex?
- Does it need to make you feel beat up afterward?
- Does it need to rally you into an emotional frenzy?
The problem with the question of determining a deep sermon is that we would all use our own criteria.
Or think about this another way. Would you describe Jesus as deep? At first blush you’d probably respond by saying yes. But Jesus taught by telling stories about the most basic elements of life. Like planting seeds and looking for something you lost.
And yet we hopefully come to the conclusion that Jesus’ teaching WAS deep, but not because of any of the filters in the list above. I bet the Pharisees talked behind his back and told each other that He was just too shallow for them to listen to. And we are still affirming our same biases today.