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How to Listen to a Sermon

Lean into what God is saying and you'll become a better listener.

How to Listen to a Sermon

What is it like for you to listen to a sermon? What do you experience when you sit and listen to the preacher speak about the Bible? What's it like? Once you've heard a sermon, what do you do? (Yawn? "Glad that's over!" "What's for lunch?") You might not even remember what the preacher said—it was over your head, boring, too complicated, not connected to your world.

I can understand that. Some sermons aren't memorable at all. I've preached many unmemorable sermons! I'm a professional sermon listener—even more than you are as you sit and listen to sermons week after week. I teach preaching and I can tell you I've listened to thousands of sermons—student sermons. And, yes, some of these sermons weren't memorable at all. Like you, I have no idea what the preacher was talking about!

We want our preachers to be clear, don't we? We want to get at the idea of the text and see how that idea makes a difference in our lives. The concept of remembering—or not remembering—what ...

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Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

thomas cohoon

April 28, 2015  3:51pm

I understand what Tim is saying above, but I think the article is excellent. We need to become more engaged and better listeners so we can grow. To listen to the word of God is to not only hear the preacher, but to study the scriptures and to participate in fellowship with one another. One has to "lean in" to truly apply what you hear. God wants a relationship with each of us and it starts by hearing His "voice". We cannot be encouraged, strengthened or disciple without listening with intent. Yes, we are all called to disciple, teach and preach; but we all need instruction to grow.

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DENNIS strawderman

April 27, 2015  8:50pm

Scot, I found your article very insightful and helpful for all persons in their sermon listening. Many times we go to church and to hear but do not listen. We do not focus or have any expectation to truly hear what God may be saying to us. I particularly appreciate your encouraging words in your conclusion concerning "not being able to remember every sermon". I agree that we are nourished spiritually just as we are nourished by each meal we eat regardless of whether we remember what we had to eat on a certain day! I whole heartedly agree that we must "lean in" to the message with the intention of focusing with expectancy to hear God's message to us. Thanks for a much needed reminder to "lean in" with expectancy.

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Matthew Woodley

April 27, 2015  3:02pm

Tim: Really? Have you read the Book of Acts lately? There's plenty of "one-way communication" from guys like Peter and Paul. The NT epistles are pretty much all one-way communications that were supposed to be read in local churches. Then there's the prophets--Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, even that rascal Jonah--who delivered one way sermons. And as I recall Jesus engaged in a lot of one-way talking. Sure, one-way preaching isn't the only or even primary way to hear God's Word, but it's certainly clearly found all throughout the NT. Editor, PreachingToday.com

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Tim

April 27, 2015  10:49am

I have a strong objection to what you say. Listening is a severe limitation on God's design for his truth and story. The NT calls all believers to be full expressive participants in the telling and full responders to which ever part speaks. The 1500+ year tradition of men that truth be told by one man in strict one-way communication is not found in the NT. "Preach the word" is never narrowed down by any NT example to a pulpit routine. Psalms speaks of listening to God. He desires to heard through all his people. If only one speaks you only get a fraction of God's message. This one man speaking routines is as Roman Catholic as saying rosaries. Please consider a reexamination of your deeply set tradition by comparing it to the scriptures. God's people are called to be better at "speaking the truth in love", not merely listening to the truth in one-way communication. Consider the "new and living way" in Hebrews 10 that culminates in all God's people prepared to speak to each other.

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