A friend left this question on our website…
What advice do you give people in the pews to be better listeners? I admit I have listened to a wonderful sermon and by mid afternoon may have trouble with recall of the major points. I have found jotting some notes can help. Your thoughts? We have a gifted pastor and I want to honor him and our Lord by my listening and learning.
My first thought is to say to my friend, “This isn’t rocket science. It all boils down to pay attention, take notes, stay focused.” That sort of thing.
Those who listen to sermons regularly have noticed that a successful listening experience usually involves a number of factors:
–The pastor is touching on something that they are interested in.
–The speaker is a good communicator.
–The listener is prepared and does those things necessary to stay focused.
When I invited friends to chime in on this subject, Dr. Mike Miller, pastor of Jacksonville, Texas’ Central Baptist Church–and my longtime friend–gave clearly the most thought-through answer. Mike suggests:
Pray for your pastor before you go to bed. As you do, pray that you will rest well and wake up ready to hear from God’s Word.
Then get up early enough not to be rushed. Spend time in prayer before you go to church, praying for your pastor and yourself. Ask God to give you an attentive and receptive heart.
Sit in the best possible place for you—where you hear and see best and where there are the fewest distractions (people who want to talk to you during the sermon, etc.). Sing with all your heart, focusing on the words you are singing. Then open your Bible (if you use a Bible app, turn off all notifications, and put your device in airplane mode). Put all electronic devices in airplane mode so you will not receive any messages or calls.
Ask the Lord to speak through your pastor and to open your mind, ears, and heart. Take notes. Don’t try to write down everything, but write the main points and anything that really gets your attention or speaks to you.
After church, sit down at lunch with friends/family and discuss the sermon. NOTE: This is not the time to be critical but to share what you each learned and how you intend to apply it. Go home and thank God for the blessing of your pastor and the Word of God.
Couldn’t have said it better, Mike! Thanks!