How To Balance Depth And Application In Your Sermons

There are many different styles of preaching and delivering messages to a congregation. If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time, or even if you’ve just attended church for a while, you know how pastors can vary in the way they present information. 

One thing I like to encourage all pastors to do is to find a balance between depth and application as they preach a message. Let me explain.  

Spiritual depth and application points are both vital parts of an effective and impactful sermon. Too much of one and not enough of another could leave your congregation confused, discouraged, lacking conviction, or wishing for practical next steps. No pastor wants anyone in their congregation to feel that way after listening to one of their sermons. Therefore, we must be diligent in finding the balance of including spiritual depth in our sermons while also adding in practical application.  

Now, you might be asking, “Pastor, how am I supposed to know if I’m balancing depth and application well, or if I’m leaning too far in one direction?” That’s exactly what I want to help you with. In this blog post, we’re going to talk about how to make sure you’re incorporating the spiritual and scriptural depth to your sermons without overwhelming or confusing your congregation. Then, in next week’s post, we’ll take about how to make sure your sermons don’t lack depth and lean too far in the direction of inspirational content that lacks Scriptural depth.  

First, let’s determine if you’re leaning too far in the direction of spiritual and scriptural depth. Obviously, it’s important to make sure that every sermon you preach is based on and grounded in God’s Word. There’s no wavering from that. However, it’s vital that as you preach, you are taking the necessary steps to explain not only what the verses and passages mean, but also how the verses apply to your congregation as they are following Jesus.  

So as you’re preparing your sermons moving forward, here are some helpful questions to ask:

  1. Am I allowing time to explain the primary passage of Scripture in my sermon, rather than just reading it and assuming the congregation understands it?
  2. Am I explaining any supporting passages of Scripture and taking the time to make clear connections between those supporting passages and the main passage of Scripture within the sermon?
  3. Am I being diligent in studying the context of the passage I’m preaching on so that I can clearly explain the context to my congregation in a way that they can understand?
  4. Am I explaining clearly and practically how the congregation can apply the Scripture passage to their own lives?
  5. Do I give my congregation at least one next step or takeaway they can easily remember as they leave their seat? 

If you find yourself answering any of these questions with a “no,” I would encourage you to make some adjustments to your sermon preparation process to include the steps and tips listed in the questions above.  

To be even more specific, carve time into your sermon to explain your Scripture rather than just reading it. Write your sermons with the assumption that your congregation has never heard or read this specific passage of Scripture before, even if it’s a well-known verse or passage. And finally, come up with at least one practical next step or takeaway you can leave your listeners with so they can easily apply what they learned from your sermon as they move forward.  

I hope that by incorporating these aspects of a sermon and asking yourself the questions above, you’re able to find the right balance of depth and application. As I mentioned previously, be sure to check back for next week’s blog post as we discuss further how to achieve this balance by not allowing your sermons to lean too far into the other direction of more inspirational content that lacks spiritual and Scriptural depth.  

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