Justin Taylor put up something that I recently ran across entitled How to Listen to a Sermon. It's a compilation of resources for thinking about listening to a sermon. What caught my eye was his comment that
"If you’re a regular church attender (and therefore sermon-listener), it’s sometimes surprising to think we don’t have more teaching on how to listen to a sermon."
My immediate thought was that this is a real weak spot for the church at large. Pastors get a huge amount of training in exegesis and preaching, but how much training do we do for training people to listen to the preaching of God's Holy Word?
This is an important issue to dig into. He has a great Thabiti Anyabwile comment that all but sang to me, because it affects how pastors preach:
Few things are more discouraging or dishonoring to [faithful pastors] than a congregation inattentive to the Word of God. Faithful men flourish at the fertile reception of the preached Word. They’re made all the more bold when their people give ear to the Lord’s voice and give evidence of being shaped by it. As church members, we can care for our pastors and teacher and help to prevent unnecessary discouragement and fatigue by cultivating the habit of expositional listening.
Here are the resources he provides to help prepare your hearts for listening to a sermon.
- Phil Ryken: So what is the right way to listen to a sermon? With a soul that is prepared, a mind that is alert, a Bible that is open, a heart that is receptive, and a life that is ready to spring into action. Read the rest for an explanation of each point.
- Christopher Ash, Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons
- John Piper, “Take Care How You Listen!” (sermon)
- Thabiti Anyabwile, “A Healthy Church Member Is an Expositional Listener” (ch. 1) in What Is a Healthy Church Member?