How to Get the Most Out of Your Pastor’s Preaching

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has written a helpful blog post for those who regularly submit themselves to the means of grace that is the preached word.

I particularly appreciated this pre-service exhortation at the top of her list:

Pray for your pastor as he prepares for Sunday. Pray that his schedule would be free from unnecessary distractions. Pray that God will give him understanding into the meaning of the Word. Pray that God will speak to him personally through the Word and that he will respond in humility and obedience. Pray that God will help him to communicate the truth with clarity, freedom, passion, and power.

I don’t know any preacher worth his salt that wouldn’t salivate over the prospect of a people who did half the things this sister advises, especially that kind of prayer.

You can read the entire piece here.

Help for Expositional Listening

In his little book on healthy church membership, Thabiti Anyabwile promotes expositional listening as the first mark of a healthy church member. He defines expositional listening this way: listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our personal and corporate lives as Christians (p. 20).

He gives six suggestions for cultivating this habit:

  1. Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time. FYI, tomorrow’s text is Galatians 5:13-15.
  2. Invest in a good set of commentaries. These would aid your study in your quiet time prep.
  3. Talk and pray with friends about the sermon after church. I supply discussion questions in every bulletin to help with this.
  4. Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week. We upload the audio recording normally every Sunday afternoon after the message is given that morning.
  5. Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself. Be active not passive in your reading and study.
  6. Cultivate humility. Beware knowledge puffing up as opposed to building up.

Will you seek tomorrow to develop this mark of a healthy church member? Pray that all who attend will.

So Many Questions

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we begin our follow up to the Two Ways To Live evangelism training during our 9:30 equipping hour for adults and highschoolers with another combination video/discussion curriculum called So Many Questions.

You needn’t have participated in the last seven weeks of training in order to take advantage of and profit by this follow up emphasis on apologetics – defending the faith.

Matthias Media posts this description of the course content on their website:

When was the last time you were asked one of these questions?

» How do I know God exists in the first place?
» Did Jesus really come back from the dead?
» Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?
» You can’t trust what the Bible says—it’s been changed too much over the years!
» No-one can claim to have ‘the truth’—everyone’s opinion is valid.
» Wasn’t Jesus just another great religious teacher?
» Discussing religion just divides people and causes problems!
» If the Bible is so clear, why can’t Christians agree on what it says?
» Why is the Bible anti-gay?
» If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?
» Can’t we just be good enough to please God?
» Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites!
» Do you have to go to church to be a Christian?

Find out how to answer these common questions.

In a series of short sessions, So Many Questions will take you through each question, helping you to work out what to say, and providing an ‘expert’ answer from which to learn. You’ll also learn the basic principles behind all these answers.

Tomorrow we will lay some ground work before getting into the specific questions. We will talk about why it is important to be prepared to answer such questions, how to listen in such situations, and how to answer effectively.

Hope to see you in the auditorium at the SDA at 9:30 AM sharp!

Listen Up!

Available this Sunday for a mere buck at the resource table will be Christopher Ash’s little book Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons (2009, The Good Book Company, 30 pages).

Here’s how the publisher describes the resource:

Christopher Ash outlines seven ingredients for healthy listening. He then deals with how to respond to bad sermons – ones that are dull, or inadequate, or heretical [not that you’ll need this at OGC]. And finally, he challenges us with ideas for helping and encouraging our Bible teachers to give sermons that will really help us to grow as Christians.

Ash prescribes these seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening:

1. Expect God to speak
2. Admit God knows better than you
3. Check the preacher says what the passage says
4. Hear the sermon in church
5. Be there week by week
6. Do what the Bible says
7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!

Endorsements include:

‘We give Listen Up to all our new members’
– Mark Dever, Sr. Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church

‘We just don’t have teaching and training on how to LISTEN to sermons. Christopher Ash shows what a gaping hole that omission leaves’
Rico Tice, All Souls, Langham Place, London

‘New, fresh, wise, and personally convicting. A must-read for anyone serious about growing as a Christian’
Andrew Reid, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

‘Provides crucial theology and practical advise about listening that can make the difference between life and death in the church.’
R Kent Hughes

‘A great resource to help grow a new generation of believers who both tremble at God’s word and are changed by it.’
Vaughan Roberts, St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, UK

Be sure to pick up your copy this Sunday!

Take Care Then How You Hear

The Bible has a lot to say about how preachers are to preach (2 Tim. 3:16-4:4). It also has some things to say to those who listen. In Luke 18:8 Jesus bids His hearers to take care then how you hear.

Tim Challies has grappled with how to take care in listening to preaching in a blog post entitled Being a Diligent Listener. He writes:

We set high expectations for our pastors, and rightly so, I think. Ministers of the Word have a high calling before God to be his mouthpiece, to bring his Word to his people. We expect that every Sunday we will sit under the pastor’s teaching and learn sacred truths from his mouth. We expect that he will spend his week studying Scripture and digging deeply into God’s Word so that he can teach us something on Sunday that will change our lives. We expect him to be true to Scripture, to make a good presentation of it and to keep us engaged all the while. It is a difficult and often thankless task.

What we consider less often, I think, is that while a pastor bears great responsibility in preparing for and delivering the Word of God each Sunday, the listener shares in the responsibility. The church has no place for an audience. We are all to be involved in the preaching, even as listeners. We may drive home on Sunday muttering about the pastor’s lack of preparation after a less-than-engaging sermon, but how often do we drive away reflecting on our own lack of preparation? How often should we trace our lack of learning or our lack of engagement right back to our own lack of preparation?

You can read the rest of the post here.

As I give myself to preparation for tomorrow’s message in John 7:37-52, may you as well give yourself to the kind of preparation Challies commends. I will meet you somewhere in the middle tomorrow morning, Lord willing.