I have to admit, I like a lot of what Andy Stanley has to say about preaching. One thing he does well is to say all that needs to be said, but without over packing the sermon. He sometimes speaks of preaching “one simple truth.” This issue tends to stir a reaction one way or the other:
On the one hand there are those that simply can’t find their way through a download of exegetical information. It is all too foreign. Too distant. Too technical. Too alien. Too irrelevant. So a dense sermon will leave little to no mark on them, other than boring them away from God and His Word.
On the other hand there are those that simply can’t cope with a sermon so simple that they gain nothing new from the experience of listening. It is all too simple. Too be there, done that. Too basic. So a lightweight sermon will leave little to no mark on them, other than boring them away from God and His Word (and probably exacerbating their pride, which helps nobody!)
So what to do? I don’t advocate simplistic preaching, nor dense preaching. I think we need to prayerfully pursue an engaging and accessible re-presentation of the biblical text, seeking to apply the text to the hearts and lives of those listening. With this as our goal, we should be able to satisfy most who want something of substance. At the same time, a loving consideration of listeners will allow us to avoid going over the heads of the listeners. It is our job to make the difficult accessible.
There may be a handful that can’t ever be pleased. Anything more than “do this, do that” and it is too complex. Anything less than rabbinical midrash and never-before-seen pesher and it is too basic. But for the most part, engaged and touched listeners will not be thinking “too basic” or “too complex.”
It is the disengaged and untouched that tend to swell the ranks of dissenters and create the tension.