This post was supposed to appear yesterday but I ran out of time; so here it is now.
Last Sunday dad preached on worshiping in truth and half of his sermon was on how to listen to a sermon. It is not a topic commonly taught on but it is important. Most of us listen to a sermon every week and we are responsible for every sermon we hear. (Luke 8:18) Thus it is important to know how to get the most out of a sermon. Here is what Dad suggested for getting the most out of a sermon along with some of my additions.
- Be deliberate about getting ready
- Try to get as much prep done on Saturday.I usually try to gather everything I need to bring to church (Bible, notebook, violin, etc.) into one place the night before. I also plan what I am going to wear and make sure it is ironed. That way I am not as rushed Sunday morning.
- Read and discuss the text that is going to be preached on Sunday. You can do this with your family or by yourself. Well, you can't discuss it by yourself but you can read and study it on your own.
- Discuss last weeks text with your family to tie it in to the upcoming sermon.
- Sing the songs that are going to be sung on Sunday. this may or may not be possible for you depending on whether you can find out what songs are going to be sung or not. But if you can find out ahead of time do so and sing them all week. This way you will be familiar with the songs and you will be confidently singing along. (I am an advocate for hearty singing in church by the way )
- Pray for the upcoming service. Pray that you will be ready to worship. Pray that God will be glorified. Pray that you will be drawn closer to God. Pray that the pastor is prepared (he really appreciates that. Take it from a pastors daughter.)
- This is going to sound very mundane but; Eat a good breakfast. If you don't eat breakfast because you are so rushed your stomach will be growling and it will be horribly distracting.
- Also make sure you get a good nights sleep the night before. That way you wont be fighting sleep throughout the sermon. It is no fun to have to viciously fight sleep for an hour. I have had many such experiences and I do not wish to relive them.
Receiving the Preached Word:
- Listen attentively. Remember that the pastor is bringing God's word to you. Be an active listener. Follow along in the Bible. You have come so prepared you should have a great desire to hear and learn.
- Try to calm yourself and eliminate distractions. This is sometimes difficult especially if you have little siblings to watch and the preacher preaches in front of a window : / But do your best to eliminate the distractions.
- Take notes. This helps me immensly. Taking notes is very simple. Listen for main points. Indicator words include "so my point is" "here we see" Listen for lists to jot down like "the four lessons we learn are..." Write down any scripture references. Write down anything that stands out. Write down any questions and answers. This is probaly not the proper way to do it but it is what i do and it helps me remember and absorb the sermon. If you have taken a note taking class forgive my improper style and tell me what you do. I would greatly appreciate it.
- Look at the pastor. this helps you not get distracted and also lets him know you are listening.
Practicing the Preached Word:
- Strive to retain what you heard. If you are anything like me you will naturally leave church and forget about what you learned so it takes an effort to remember and apply what you learned. Malachai 3:16
- Discuss what you learned with others. This could be with your family or your friends at church. Compare notes if you are blessed with note taking friends or just talk about the most important things you learned.
- Strive to maintain what you heard through meditation. No, not the type you do in yoga. Sometime later Sunday evening or on Monday before you have forgotten what you learned, take time to look back over the text and your notes so that you can refresh and remind yourself of what you have been taught.
P.S. Tell the pastor how much you appreciated the sermon after church. You don't know how much that encourages him.