I wonder which person you are:
Person 1 doesn’t like sermons, though he does like a lot of other things about church. Rather than walking out during sermon time he would just sit back and allow his mind to wander because Sunday after Sunday the sermon remained entirely dull.
Person 2 does like sermons, and looks forward to church for precisely that reason. Why? Though week after week he heard the voice of a pastor, his expectation wasn’t to hear what the pastor had to say to him, but what God was going to say to him.
Though most of you reading this right now would never want to admit it, I do think a large percentage of you fall into the camp of person 1. You simply put up with preaching rather than looking forward to it. You see it as dull, not life-giving. Why? Not because you’ve drunk so deeply of God through His Word that you feel you can’t learn anymore about Him (which isn’t really possible, because if you’re really drinking deeply of God you’ll want more of Him) but that you’ve drunk so deeply of the world that you’ve begun to lose your taste for the things of God. So rather than coming expectantly and ready to hear God speak the sermon seems dull.
We are to listen to sermons expecting God to speak to us because Jesus gives authority to preachers who teach the Bible accurately. Jesus Himself has made it so that the Word of God completes the work of God. So, naturally if Jesus works like this, when we hear the accurate preaching of the Word of God we are really hearing the voice of God speaking to us through the pastor. Actually the only time a pastor has any authority at all is when he submits himself and his preaching to the agenda of the Word of God. To the degree that he steps away from the Word or ignores the Word the ‘preacher’ (notice my ‘quotes’ there?) loses his authority.
Therefore when you hear your pastor begin the sermon it is the duty/joy of every Christian to be diligent hearers, not as if this were merely another dull sermon, but that we recognize it as it is, the very Word of God to us, sent from God to speak into our lives by His Word through the power of His Spirit.
Steps to take:
1) Look up next Sunday’s sermon text and read it at home during the week (a good pastor should make his people aware of what’s coming next).
2) Pray for your pastor’s sermon preparation during the week, that God would guide him in his study, bind him to the Word, and fill him with the power of the Spirit.
3) Pray for yourself, that God would grow an expectant heart in you, eager to hear His Word preached.
4) Unless providentially hindered, come to church rested rather than exhausted, ready to pay attention.
5) Pray as the sermon begins, “God I am listening, speak to me.”
Adapted from LISTEN UP! Christopher Ash, 2009