Several years ago, our teaching team sought feedback about our preaching. The overwhelming response from our people was, "We want deeper messages." The trouble was they differed widely on what "deeper" meant. Further analysis showed that "deeper" meant at least five different things. We began thinking through how we could deepen each of these areas. This revolutionized the way we plan series and develop messages.
No matter how thoughtful, passionate, or persuasive our messages may be, they are only as powerful as our ability to connect the hearer to the heart of Scripture. Developing biblical depth involves processing the richness of the original context, leading people through nuances of the text and helping them connect the passage to other parts of Scripture.
While people aren't particularly interested in the conjugation of Greek and Hebrew verbs and the opinions of commentators, they do value exploring the world of the biblical writers and connecting the broader themes found in Scripture.
We recently preached a series called Kings, using a Discovery Channel approach to understanding the kings of Israel and Judah. We handed our people an oversized playing card that contained the name of each king, placed on a timeline, with pertinent information and a simple visual reference to the trajectory of their spiritual life (i.e., a spade represented a king that turned away from God). This made biblical history both understandable and fun.
My tendency is to focus on what a passage means and then move quickly to application. I easily neglect the "why" questions—Why is this important to God? Why do we struggle with this? Intellectual depth means reflecting on the main idea of a message, thinking ...