It’s a simple statement, but some preachers probably need to ponder it. With the good motivation of seeking to be pastorally relevant, some preachers short-change the preaching of the text. It certainly saves time if you merely summarise or refer to the text, but don’t bother with any extended explanation, or any retelling of the narratives, or any extended description to help the listeners enter into the world of the text. Bypassing these elements does allow you to get to application and relevance. But what is lost in the process?
People receiving lightweight Bible content that is heavy on application will not mature into the kind of Bible-mature people you probably want them to be. It trains listeners to look for lessons and applications, but to do so without really entering into the text to any depth. It may encourage people to try to live out the Christian life, but without drawing them deeper into the source of life – relationship with the persons of the Godhead. As preachers we have a double-duty, or even a double delight: to enable people to encounter the God of the Bible as they enter into His Word, and to be changed by that encounter. These two go together. But don’t short-change the first by skipping to the second. As the world seems to spin further and further away from the anchors of Biblical truth, people need to be more biblically literate and mature, not less.