Quieting our Hearts and Minds for Worship
15 Helps to Sermon Listening
(adapted from David Murray and Geroge Whitefield)
Before the Sunday Sermon
1. Read and mediate on God’s Word every day:
Daily Bible reading whets our appetite for the main course on the Lord’s Day. We can’t expect to be ready to digest spiritual food if we’ve not been eating through the week. And don’t spoil your appetite by feasting on sin.
2. Limit media consumption:
Most Americans consume 9-11 hours of media a day (James 1:21). In Preaching to Programmed People: Effective Communication in a Media-Saturated Society , Timothy Turner explains how “TV watching and preaching are diametrically opposed to one another-one is visual, the other is rational; one involves the eyes, the other involves the ears; one creates passive watchers, the other requires active hearers.” After watching TV and going to the movies and surfing the Internet all week long, you come to church and have to sit and listen to a lengthy sermon that requires a great deal of concentration and exertion you aren’t used to. You’re expected to go from being a passive viewer to an aggressive listener literally overnight. Listening demands a great deal of concentration and self-discipline.
3. Use Saturday evening well:
Tidy up the previous week, prepare for next week, get to bed early enough, discourage children out late on Saturday night. Download and review the Study for Children and Families that we send out to our families with young children, or review the Sunday message with that helpful worship guide.
4. Pray for yourself and the pastor/preacher:
Do this daily but especially on Sunday. In many ways, “you will get what you pray for.”
5. Train yourself to listen:
There are multiple resources on how to preach but, apart from the few mentioned above, very few on how to listen. From cover to cover, the Bible is jam-packed with verses and passages that talk about the vital necessity of hearing and obeying God’s Word. God is very concerned about how preachers preach. But based on the sheer amount of biblical references to hearing and listening, it is unmistakable that God is just as, if not more, concerned about how listeners listen.
1. Come to church on time to get calm, settled, and focused:
We encourage and recommend you attend our 9:30 AM Prayer meeting whenever possible, to ready your mind and heart to be in God’s presence as you begin your worship Sunday, and to pray with us for His Spirit to be manifest among us!
2. Respect the silence of the sanctuary:
This includes training your children not to distract others as much as possible - we do well here, being family-integrated.
3. Take brief notes:
Enough to help you concentrate but not so many that it turns into a lecture that only engages the head.
4. Accept there will be times when the Word hurts you:
Don’t react against this and shut down, but receive it and try to profit from it as God’s Word is and should be, “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).
5. Try to find one thing to benefit from:
You can usually find a crumb or two in even the poorest preacher’s poorest sermon.
After the Sermon
1. Talk about it with others:
Share what helped you with friends and family.
2. Put it into practice:
Obey and do the Word – this is a sure fruit of your love for God.
3. Be patient in looking for results:
Sowing and fruit-bearing presuppose a gradual and time-consuming process of development.
4. Work on your soil:
Soil can change from bad to good to very good. We are responsible for preparing the soil of our hearts (Mark 4:1-20).
5. Give feedback:
Encourage the preachers from time to time with specifics about how particular sermons helped you and in which way.
Consider the above and get ready to worship in a new and fresh way at CCC!