LISTEN UP: How to Listen to Bad Sermons

I am 100% convinced that hearing the Word of God preached is the main thing not only in the Christian’s worship on the Lord’s Day, but the main thing in the Christian’s worship everyday.  Why do I think this?  Because faith comes through hearing the Word preached (Romans 10:17).  Because the Word of God contains all that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  Because the Word of God is the only revelation from God we have, we should not add to it or remove from it (Revelation 22:18-19).  We should see to become people who sit under the Word of God in submission rather than people who stand over it in judgment.

Bottom line: the Word of God, the Bible, is the richest delight to the believer because it is the only way God speaks to us.

Throughout the past few weeks we have talked much about how to LISTEN UP! during the sermons we hear week in and week out.  Here’s where we’ve been:


LISTEN UP: Expect God to Speak

LISTEN UP: Admit God Knows Better than You

LISTEN UP: Check the Preacher is Preaching the Text

LISTEN UP: Hear the Sermon in Church

LISTEN UP: Be in Church Week by Week

LISTEN UP: Do What the Bible Says

LISTEN UP: Do What the Bible Says…TODAY

Today we turn the page in sermon listening.  All of the above posts have been focused on how we listen to good preaching. But there’s one problem with this: not all preaching is good preaching.  Bad preaching abounds.  What do we do about all the bad preaching we hear?  How do we sit through them when we cannot even use these principles outlined above?  Do these same principles even apply to bad preaching?  Well, yes and no.

Yes, the same principles apply.  Even in bad preaching, we can glean much for our souls if we approach the ‘bad’ sermon in humility, looking for God to speak.  I’ve often been reminded of glorious truths when I just witnessed the opposite heresy preached.  No, the same principles do not apply.  Bad preaching is bad for a reason.  It sucks the life out of people, does not edify, bores, feel’s lecture-ish, or is just plain heretical.  I think bad preaching can be put into 3 categories:

Dull preaching

Biblically inadequate preaching

Heretical preaching

I do think these 3 labels do comprehensively summarize all the various nonsense so-called pastors ‘preach’ these days.  All 3 are different animals and should be tackled in different ways.  To this we now turn!  Stay tuned…

(Adapted from Christopher Ash, LISTEN UP! 2009)

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