I struggle listening to sermons for three reasons. First, I’m so accustomed to being the preacher that I never like not preaching. Second, I just get antsy when I’m sitting for very long. Third, I tend to want to critique rather than learn. Recognizing these issues, I have to fight hard to listen well. Maybe these strategies that help me will help you:
- Pray regularly (at least weekly) for your pastor. When you pray for your pastor, you will be more inclined to listen to a sermon as a word from the Lord.
- Get sufficient rest on Saturday night. Weariness always makes it hard to sit and listen well.
- Pray just before the sermon, “Lord, keep my attentive, and help me to hear something for me.” Believing the Lord has a message just for you will make you listen more intently.
- Take notes. I know that’s a simple approach, but it does help people to listen better. Think about creative ways to take notes in addition to writing the sermon outline, like “What I did not know about this text” or “Questions I’d want to ask my pastor.”
- Listen for at least one nugget of truth. If you listen for something, you’ll pay better attention to even the most boring sermon. When you hear that nugget of truth, write it down for the next step.
- Establish weekly accountability with somebody. Enlist a church friend to whom you send an email after every sermon, stating, “This is what I believe the Lord has challenged me to believe or do through this sermon.” Accountability changes the way we listen.
- Plan family sermon discussions each Sunday. Even 10 minutes where each family member talks about what he or she heard will make everybody pay more attention. This step doesn’t need to take long; it just needs to be intentional.
- Fight the urge to be distracted by your phone. I’m not opposed to using your Bible on your phone, but fight hard not to check emails or do Google searches during the sermon. If you can’t win that battle, leave your phone in the car and bring your hard copy of the Bible.
- Join a small group that discusses the sermon each week. If you do that, you know you have to listen to be prepared for small group discussion.
- Review the sermon notes in the middle of the next week. Just read through them one time and pray about your own life application. When you work at application, you’ll learn to look forward to the next sermon.
What ideas would you add?