Admit it, you have heard bad sermons before at your church. The preacher may not have been teaching false doctrine or calling congregational members sins out by name, he was just boring. You are sitting there wishing you had recorded the worship service so you could fast forward past the sermon. Trust me, I get it! Not only have I listened to boring sermons, I have preached some myself!
Your pastor could use your help to make his sermons come alive. Actually, you could use your help. Many of the criticisms people have with preachers are actually shortcomings of those of us in the pews to listen well. With that, here are five ways you can make your pastor's boring sermons come alive:
1. Pray for your pastor's preparation.
I have found that one of the best ways I can help my pastor's sermons come alive is by praying for him. You can bless your pastor by praying for your pastor's love for Jesus, family, and for the church. But don't stop there. Pray for your their preparation as they work hard each week to write a sermon for Sunday.
I remember trying this for the first time as a high school student. I prayed for Michael Butler's teaching for the coming Wednesday every day for a week. When Wednesday night finally rolled around, I could not WAIT to hear what he had to say. Take the challenge: pray everyday over the next week for your pastor's preaching come Sunday.
2. Study the passage before Sunday.
Have you ever made an effort to study the Bible along with your pastor? It is amazing how this makes the sermon come alive! Chances are good you are in the middle of a sermon series at your church right now. Your pastor probably tells you what scripture reference you will be studying in the weeks to come. Use this as an opportunity to study the passage before Sunday.
Not only will you learn more from your pastor’s sermons, you will come into church with a strong understanding of the Bible text. This will allow you to enter into a “dialogue” with your pastor. Hopefully he addresses some of the questions you had about this passage. If not, be sure to ask him after service or in an e-mail later in the week.
3. Have a posture of expectation.
Let me guess: You sit in the same chair/pew every week with your bible app opened and you might fill in a few blanks or tweet a good quote as a way of taking notes. Here is a physical change you can make that will affect your mind. Change your posture. Instead of slouching or leaning back as if you were watching a movie, sit up straight or lean forward as if you were playing a video game. Sit ready to listen as if you EXEPCT God himself to speak to you. Be sure to have your Bible and journal in hand to take notes so you don’t forget what was said when He does.
My friend used to sit in the balcony and complain about the sermons his pastor preached. I dared him to move to the pew front and center in the worship center. He accepted my challenge. Later, he admitted he felt very awkward the first few weeks. But after about a month, it was amazing how much better the sermons became! The pastor’s sermons did not change, but my friends posture did.
4. Review the sermon with others.
Maybe the best thing you could do is to make a habit of reviewing the sermon with others. This also helps you to listen well and take good notes during the sermon so you can have something to say when you meet with your small group or discuss the Bible with your family at lunch.
Important to note: I am not suggesting analyzing the preacher, or even the preaching event, but the passage preached on. Taking time to discuss the bible afterwards with others will help you grow as you hear others understanding of the text and you will help them as you pass along your thoughts as well. Just be sure the focus is on the Bible, not on what you think!
5. Listen for God's Words not man's words.
The best thing you can do to improve your pastor's sermons is to improve your hearing. Every sermon could be better. Pastors have many flaws. Only by listening to their sermons well can you hear God speak. Make the effort every Sunday to test what they say with the scriptures. This will help you as you listen to a man speak God’s Word.
Pastors- Let me encourage you to continue to preach the Word! I wholeheartedly agree with Russell Moore’s recent statement on Twitter:
I think Christian millennials are looking for gospel distinctiveness, stout preaching, and genuine discipleship https://t.co/Uvq3xIAjwo
If your preacher has encouraged you, take time to encourage them! Send them a note or get them a small gift card as a way of showing how grateful you are for their work. In a day when many people are looking to have their ears tickled, strong gospel preachers are a gracious gift to their churches.
What are some suggestions you have for me? How can I become a better listener? I would love to hear your thoughts below or on Twitter or Facebook!