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The art of listening … to a sermon – Part 2

Last week we saw the importance of expositional listening. So, how do we become good expositional listeners?

The following tips were prepared by David Murray, and are taken from here.

(I’ve shortened some of them)

Before the 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: “… 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.”
  3. Use Saturday evening well: Tidy up the previous week, prepare for next week, get to bed early, discourage children out late on Saturday night.
  4. Pray for yourself and the pastor: Do this daily but especially on Sunday. In many ways, “you will get what you pray for.”
  5. Train yourself to listen: The Bible says more about the listener’s responsibility to hear and obey the Word of God than it does about the preacher’s responsibility to explain and apply the Word of God.

The Sermon

  1. Come to church in good time to get calm, settled, and focused.
  2. Respect the silence of the sanctuary: This includes training your children not to distract others
  3. Engage your body and soul in worship and prayer: Stir up your whole body, mind, and soul in the worship before the sermon.
  4. Tell yourself that God is about to speak: Keep praying that He will speak to you through His Word.
  5. Recognize that this is a team effort and take personal responsibility. 
It is a joint venture between the preacher and the listener. Successful sermons result from the listener teaming up with the preacher much like a catcher works in unison with a pitcher (in baseball).
  6. Take brief notes: Enough to help you concentrate but not so many that it turns into a lecture that only engages the head.
  7. Check that the preacher is preaching God’s Word: Not a critical Pharisaical spirit (Luke 11:54), but with a discerning Berean spirit (Acts 17:11).
  8. 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.
  9. Build up good‐will towards the preacher: Ill‐will or malice towards the preacher is a hardener of the heart. It blocks the Word.
  10. 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.
  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 preachers from time to time with specifics about how particular sermons helped you and in which way.