10 Simple Steps to Superior Sermon-Listening

July 6, 2011 — 2 Comments

I love preaching and I love hearing good preaching, so I’ve enjoyed being able to hear some great sermons over the past couple of weeks at Summer in the Son (at Kentucky Christian University).

As I was listening to one of Jim Burgen’s messages last week, my mind began to wander and I began to wonder whether or not I was being a good listener. I was sitting directly in front of him on the center aisle so I knew he could see me and I suddenly became aware that I was sitting with my arms crossed and a contemplative look on my face.  Three thoughts crossed my mind.

First, I thought “He must think I hate this message.”  Which I didn’t.

Second, I thought “I need to change my posture so Jim knows I’m listening.” Because I was.

Third, I thought “What can I do to be a better listener?”  Which I thought would be helpful for readers of this blog as well.

So, here you go . . .

but first two disclaimers: 1) This list is written with mature Christians in mind.  If you’re a non-Christian, I’m just glad that you’re in the room! ; 2) This list is in no particular order.

10 Simple Steps to Superior Sermon-Listening

  1. Look at the speaker.
  2. Smile…but not in a creepy way.  Honestly, anything other than frowning and shaking the head in disagreement are agreeable.
  3. Respond appropriately.  “Amen!,” “Preach it!,” “That’s what I’m talking about!,” nodding, and applause are very encouraging when the speaker knows that these responses are authentic and heart-felt.
  4. Turn off your cell phone.  There is nothing worse than a ringing phone in the middle of an important point.  No, I’m wrong.  There is something worse than a cell phone ringing in the middle of a sermon…and that’s answering a cell phone call during a sermon.
  5. Take notes.
  6. Be aware of body language. What is your body language saying?  Are your arms crossed? Are you slouching forward over your knees with your head in your hands? Are you yawning, sleeping, or nodding off?  Are you leaning back as if completely bored?  Speakers pick up on non-verbal clues more than you know.
  7. Open your Bible or Bible app and read along, but no surfing the net during the message unless it’s to tweet a quote or thought prompted by the message.
  8. Pray for the speaker. . . that God will give the speaker wisdom, courage, and the ability to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
  9. Pray for the listeners. . . that the “soil” would be fertile and receptive ground for the Word of God.
  10. Pray for yourself . . . that God would help you to hear what it is He’s trying to say to you through His Word.
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2 responses to 10 Simple Steps to Superior Sermon-Listening

  1. 

    “Open your Bible or Bible app and read along, but no surfing the net during the message unless it’s to tweet a quote or thought prompted by the message. ”
    I so do that! But it doesn’t seem to catch on…

    “Turn off your cell phone. There is nothing worse than a ringing phone in the middle of an important point. No, I’m wrong. There is something worse than a cell phone ringing in the middle of a sermon…and that’s answering a cell phone call during a sermon. ”
    I actually disagree with this one, there are a lot of things that certainly are more imporant that what I’m doing when I preach, or what the preacher is preaching on. I would amend it to say ‘Turn the cell phone on vibrate’ now 99% of the time, I would think that actually answering the fone is bad form, but there are occasions where I could justify it.

  2. 

    Thank you for sharing these thought provoking ideas.

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