(This is one in a series of posts I started last Thursday.)
One of the primary changes in my preaching in recent months is to include more Bible teaching. Messages are a mixture of Bible teaching with other elements like introduction, illustration (stories, quotes, etc.), conclusion, challenge and encouragement.
Listen to your favorite preachers on podcasts and you'll see that they all spend a varying amount of time illustrating biblical truth through stories, analogies, quotes, etc. We're continuing to use all those elements, but we're including more teaching and a little less of the other elements.
We are convinced that the kind of inspiration that brings lasting life change is rooted in biblical truth that takes hold in our minds and hearts. Stories are the most powerful way to impact our hearts, but I'm afraid that sometimes we go for the heart without enough teaching that transforms the mind.
I've written before how I use to say, "Our church is educated beyond it's ability to live the truth it already knows." I don't say that anymore. Thanks to REVEAL I know that our biblical and theological knowledge and depth is low. We need more information, not less.
So I am devoting more time in the weekend messages to teaching what the Bible says in that particular text and tying it to the broader Bible story. That means less of some of the other elements in the message, but always remembering that it is preaching, not a Bible lecture.
I describe the shift in my thinking and practice like this: If we want to see our members become more engaged in sharing their faith, we can inspire that change through Bible teaching and sharing inspiring stories and videos that will fire everybody up for a short time (sometimes all the way to the parking lot!). Or we can teach truth that penetrates the heart and matures the soul, thereby seeing deeper, long-lasting change. This is not an either/or proposition. But with the time we have each week for the message, we're leaning more toward biblical teaching.