They both went to Pierced Church, but over time they learned to listen differently to the sermon. One ear, trained on sitcoms and sound bytes, rarely ever got what the talking ear behind the pulpit was saying. He preferred brief, inspirational talks sprinkled
with good jokes. The other ear, however, knew that the message from God’s Word was relevant to her. She knew that what she was listening to every Sunday was the most important message she heard all week as if God himself were talking.
Christianity is a message-driven, communicative faith and that the foundation for belief is built on words and ideas formed by a non-ignorable Author. Thus, it requires listening, a certain amount of literacy and a response.
Christopher Ash has written a practical little guide to listening to sermons called Listen Up! Ash serves up several ingredients for healthy sermon listening, and I follow with some commentary:
1) Expect God to speak. Prepare yourself on Saturday or Sunday morning in prayer and maybe reading the sermon text if you know it.
2) Admit God knows better than you. This mindset of humility will make you tender to not only to hear the Word but also do something with it.
3) Check what the preacher says with what the passage says. Does the main point of the preacher’s sermon reflect the main point of the biblical text? This kind of analytical listening starts with Bible open, head down and ears perked.
4) Be in church week by week to hear the sermons with God’s people as opposed to replacing attendance with listening to podcasts or TV/radio preachers. Christianity is not a private affair that is between just you and the Lord. The local church is a learning community; so, go to lunch with friends and talk about how to apply the sermon to your lives this week. Pray with each other asking God to empower you to change.
5) Do what the Bible says today— and rejoice! The local church is also a ‘doing’ community. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”