Don’t be duped. Hearers of sermons contribute almost as much as preachers. All of you who listen to sermons have a vital role to play in the regular preaching of your local church. How?
Pray: Sometimes the reason you’re not experiencing what you desire to experience out the preaching of your church is because you don’t pray for the preaching in your church. You don’t pray for your pastor as he sits in his study pouring over the text throughout the week: that God would give him insight, love for God, passion, unction in the Spirit, and a boldness to proclaim truth. This must be a regular part of your prayer life. If it’s not, why should you expect things to change?
Tell them you’re praying for them: This will be a great encouragement for them to hear you’re praying for their sermons and looking forward to Sunday. It will create gratefulness in their hearts and prompt a deeper incentive to study well to prepare.
Encourage: Preachers can live a lonely life. This is sometimes brought on by their own issues, but most of the time it is brought on by the issues of their congregations. They can think their pastor is too holy to come visit them, or too righteous to sin, or too godly to make a mistake in anything. Believing your pastor is like this is wrong, untrue, and unhelpful. He is a sinner, and what do sinners do? Sin. He needs your encouragement. Give it.
Thank them: Don’t flatter, or just give vague comments about this or that. Just say “Thank you.”
Be there: You may be surprise what an encouragement it is to pastors to just have you present week in and week out, and what a discouragement it is to not have you present. The best sermon on MP3 is no match for the live and in-person preaching of the Word of God. After all, the most important pastor in your life is the one who preaches to you every week.
Give feedback: What did you think about that sermon? Did you have a hard time believing it? Did you have an easy time embracing what he said? Did you think he could’ve gone deeper here or there? Did you think he was just flat-out wrong? Or flat-out on the mark? TELL HIM! He’ll appreciate you very much.
Don’t allow your ears to be itched: 2 Timothy 4:3-4 mentions that in the last days (the time right now) people will accumulate teachers for themselves who will itch their ears, only saying what they want to hear. If your pastor is itching your ears by always coddling you and never challenging you, tell him. You should be comforted by the preaching of the Word, but only after being challenged by it.
(Adapted from LISTEN UP! Christopher Ash, 2009)