How To Listen To Sermons


Many Christians on Sunday mornings are hearing sermons, but they aren’t listening to them.

Hearing and listening aren’t the same thing.

I can hear music playing in the background and not be listening to its message.

I learned the difference working at Starbucks while going to Bible college. I could hear blenders, customers, music, cars, and coffee being ground—but it was vital that I listened to the orders coming through my headset. I could hear all kinds of things, but I was listening for one thing.

Listen to sermons. Do more than hear them.

Hearing is passive.
Listening is active.

When it comes to sitting under the preaching of God’s word, don’t be passive. Be an active listener.

Over the next few days, I want to provide a handful of practical helps for listening to sermons, here are two:

1.Pray for yourself and your pastor before the sermon begins.

Invite the inclining power of the Holy Spirit to move you toward the word, to move your affections toward Christ, and to show you something awesome from the Bible.

Prayer is never passive. Prayer is a great way to be reminded that you are engaged in spiritual warfare, and you are ready for battle.

Pray for the Spirit to empower your pastor. Pray for your pastor to be sustained for decades of gospel proclamation. Pray that souls would be stirred by what he’s preaching—his and yours.

2.Bring your Bible.

I don’t care if you look at the Bible on your phone or tablet or the physical page. If you have the willpower and self-control to not flip over to Instagram, ESPN, Twitter, or start texting someone, that’s great. I sure don’t.

I love the book. I don’t want my phone in my hand. I want the visual reminder that I’m doing something totally different than seeing cat photos.

Now, as a pastor, when I’m preaching, it drives me nuts to look at God’s people, and see someone (who I know isn’t a guest) just looking at me with no Bible (or device) in their hands. Bring your Bible. Open your Bible. The words on the page are more important than anything I’m going to say. And everything I’m saying, by God’s grace, is being excavated out of those words.

You want to see the words your pastor is marveling over. You want to see the truth your pastor is rejoicing over. You want to behold the glory of Christ found on the page.

When you follow along in your Bible, you are joining the journey, you are active in the pursuit of truth. You are in the trenches, on the dig site, mining truth.

Don’t be passive. Be active. Get engaged. If you do these two quick and simple, yet massive things, I’m confident your love for sermons will grow.

  1. Sorry, but I spent many years in a church where they encouraged everyone to bring their Bibles. I did not discern any benefit from having a book in my hand as opposed to seeing the verses on a screen. I did see lots of folks reading & reading. I did see lots of Bibles get wear & tear from being carried & dropped off all over. I did see a lot of Bibles left in church for weeks, months, or years.
    I think the Bible should be kept at home, but I’ll never make a rule about it. 🙂

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