What do some people mean when they say they want messages to go deeper?
Number Five: Applicational Depth
Here's another issue where REVEAL has been very instructive for my preaching. It has helped identify two things people need for the kind of applicational depth that leads to spiritual growth:
- Offer Next Steps: Whenever possible, we're all looking for what our next step should be as a result of hearing God's Word and having it speak to our hearts. Those next steps are where our faith really grows, and the message can help point the way. For example, this fall we will launch a new prayer initiative akin to last year's challenge to pray for up to ten people and invite at least one to the Miracle series. This year's challenge will be a very specific next step all of us can take coming out of the last two messages in the Jonah series. I am convinced it will yield spiritual fruit in our lives while bringing more people into the Kingdom of God. Our folks have told me many times that these kinds of all-church challenges have been major catalysts in their spiritual growth.
- Differentiate Next Steps: Sometimes it is important to differentiate between the next step a newer or less mature believer might want to take versus a more mature believer. For example, I firmly believe the Bible gives the tithe as a basic benchmark for giving generously. Lois and I give beyond a tithe, so I'm not asking anyone to do something I don't practice myself. So I will challenge anyone to start tithing, even if they are not currently giving anything to God. However, I realize that not everyone is ready to take that kind of faith challenge, so last year I recommended that some may want to set a percentage they are ready to commit to and then seek to regularly and systematically give to reach that percentage goal over the coming year, raising it each year until they reach a tithe and beyond. (By the way, electronic giving is a great way to keep to your giving goals.) It's not much different from wanting everyone to cross the line of faith, but realizing that not everyone is ready, so the next step may be to read a particular book or participate in a investigative Bible study.