Have you ever seen someone stand in one of those booths that contain a bunch of money or tickets that have the air that blows up from the bottom? If you have, you know that the objective is to grab as much of whatever items are in there in a set amount of time. The only caveat is that when the machine is turned on, and the air begins to blow, the money or tickets fly around at high speed. The participant scrambles to fight the wind and try and grab items flying around. In the end, most people walk out after 30 seconds or a minute with very little in their hands. It’s something both exciting and frustrating because there is a significant amount of potential that exists; however, the reality is the person in the booth finds it very difficult to maintain much, and their focus is all over the place as they are trying to focus in on what seems easiest to latch on to.

Sometimes, sermons and Bible class lessons can feel like that to those gathered to study. When opening their Bibles for the sermon or the Bible lesson, they are the person entering the booth. As they close the door and mentally focus, the possibilities for them to benefit are tremendous, and when the preacher starts preaching, it’s like the machine is turned on. There is so much flying around that the participant doesn’t know where to focus. As soon as they latch on to one thing, they reach for another only to realize their grip on the first point is not as solid as it needed to be. The preacher doesn’t mean to create this scenario; however, in an effort to say so much that is important in a short period of time, he tries to throw in a week’s worth of study into 30 minutes. As a result, the worship participant often has the “booth” overwhelmed and may hold on to one or two items.

The human brain is incredible! We are continually learning and growing in our knowledge of the greatest “computer” ever created. However, with all the computing going on in the brain, most of us can only hold on and truly grasp small chunks of information at a time. If we stand at the back of a dump truck of information, most feel overwhelmed and tune out. That’s because frustration takes over, and in an attempt to not live in the tension, we may decide to focus elsewhere.

To be fair, that’s not good on the part of the worship participant. Each of us has the individual responsibility to prepare our minds ahead of time for worship and intentionally push aside the insignificant for the eternally important. That said, sometimes, as preachers and teachers, we don’t help…that includes me as well. When we study the Bible and get excited about what we have learned, we want badly to share that message with others. In our eyes, there is no insignificant component of the lesson. Therefore, some of us may tend to be that dump truck in our sermons, and the participants in the pews become frustrated. Some may walk out with one or two concepts; however, too many will not remember every point and subpoint you made by the afternoon.

What if, in our preaching and teaching, we simplified things? Would it be more productive if the worship participant or Bible class participant walked away to remember more if we covered less? I know that might sound like I’m speaking against deep preaching and teaching, but I’m not. Think about it, have you ever been in a situation where you could order anything off the menu as you wanted and as much as you wanted? It’s an all-inclusive restaurant, and you can order one of everything on the menu. The waiter brings the items to the table, and you can’t possibly eat and enjoy everything. What do you do? You sample everything and leave with an experience.

Now think about a restaurant where you order one thing. You study the menu and select that one dish, and when the waiter brings it to the table, you savor every bite. You process the seasoning and the texture. As you finish the dish, you leave full and satisfied but with a different experience than the all-you-can-order experience. You were focused and had time to process the single dish in a way you could not do the sampling.

In our preaching and teaching, I am submitting that it would be more beneficial if you served one dish than a sampling of many at one meal. Most people aren’t ready to process so many points and subpoints, so give them one main idea, one central concept. When you craft the lesson, focus on one single concept you want them to leave with and make sure everything you do aims at that point. You’ll be surprised what happens when you go deeper into one point rather than stay on the surface of many. The participants will maintain more and leave with a greater understanding of God’s Word.

While the booth in the opening paragraph may be fun at certain arcades or pizza places, it’s not the best in the worship setting or Bible class setting. There is a ton of potential; however, the reality is there is a ton missed when the wind starts blowing. The goal is not for you to cover ground so that you can stay on a preaching or teaching plan. If you stay on schedule but those you study with miss the message, what good was it? It would be better to cover less with more depth. Trust me, those who study with you will appreciate it.

Joe Wells
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Joe Wells holds an earned B.S. degree in Science along with a completion certificate from the Nashville School of Preaching and Biblical Studies and a Masters of Ministry degree from Freed Hardeman University. Joe travels the country as a frequent speaker for youth and family events, men’s days, as well as gospel meetings. He is the co-founder of Kaio Publications, publishers of the Family Devotional series as well as the Finer Grounds Bible Study series for women. Joe is also the author of the book Complete: Becoming the Man God Purposes You to Be and Game Plan: Developing a Spiritually Winning Strategy for Adults and Teens in Today’s Culture. Along with this, he and Erin are the co-host of The Hey Joe Show, a podcast designed to challenge and strengthen families and teens across America. Joe has served God in a public way since 2000 in the capacity of youth minister and gospel preacher, helping people make the connection with the Word of God and encouraging them to be transformed for Christ. He is blessed to the husband to the former Erin O’Hara, and they are the proud parents of four beautiful children: Colton, Michala, Camden, and Bennett.