“Thank you for your great singing today, you may be seated and now we will listen to the sermon.”
With those words many Christians start to sweat and incessantly look at their watch just to see if it has been thirty minutes yet. Preaching has been a hallmark of the church throughout its history. There have been good preachers, mediocre preachers, and preachers we wish we would have never heard. Sermons are tough and it can be a struggle to listen to one week after week.
But have you ever thought about how you are supposed to listen to a sermon? If we are honest then, no, we have not. For a long time I did not think about how to listen to a sermon much less why the sermon is important. You may have given thought to this subject and that is great. There is always need for reminder.
Christopher Ash has written a most helpful little booklet that takes a practical look at how to listen to a sermon. He gives seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening:
- Expect God to speak.
- Admit God knows better than you.
- Check the preacher says what the passage says.
- Hear the sermon in church.
- Be there week by week.
- Do what the Bible says.
- Do what the Bible says today-and rejoice!
With those in mind let’s look at the first ingredient, expect God to speak. On a weekly basis, the preacher is the mouthpiece of God. Have you ever thought about that? When the Bible is faithfully and accurately preached God is speaking to His people.
The preacher is not a man with a license to preach whatever he desires. He has a guidebook, a map, the Bible. Peter reminds the recipients of his first letter that they were born again through the living and enduring Word and this was the Word that was preached to them (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Therefore if God is speaking to us through the preacher faithfully proclaiming the Word, then there should be nothing casual about our listening to the sermon. This is not just another aspect of the church’s worship service, but is the reason the church gathers to hear from God. How we would change if we thought this way.
Ash concludes with 5 practical steps to take to prepare and be expectant to hear God speak on Sunday.
- Look up next Sunday’s Bible passage and read it at home during the week.
- Pray for next Sunday’s preacher in the middle of the week.
- Pray often for yourself, that, by His Spirit, God will grow in you a heartfelt expectation that God Himself will speak to you as His word is preached.
- If you can, try not to come to the sermon exhausted, but to come rested and ready to pay close attention.
- Deliberately quiet your mind and heart before the sermon and say to yourself” “This is when God speaks to me”. Pray again: “Lord speak to me. I am listening”.
We welcome you to try out these steps this Sunday at Grace Community Church! If you are looking for a church in the Madison County, Kentucky area, we would love to see you.