Coming Back Together
Lesson #3 How to Listen to a Sermon
Today's lesson is on listening to a sermon. Remember this is straight from the The Reformed Handbook (Grand Rapids: Faith Alive, 2007)It is filled with a kernel of truth and a ton of humor.
Remember to laugh and love
How to Listen to a Sermon
Reformed people believe God’s Word comes to us through the reading and preaching of Holy Scripture. Honoring God’s Word, not to mention getting something out of church, includes diligent listening to the sermon and active mental participation.
1. Review active listening skills.
While the listener in this case usually doesn’t get to speak, the sermon is still a conversation . Make mental notes as you listen, You may experience a variety of emotions - joy or anger or sadness.- while listening to the sermon. Don’t be surprised if tears pop into your eyes. Notice where and why you react and which emotions you experience.
2. Take notes.
Note-taking promotes active listening and provides a good basis for later reflection. It also allows you to return to confusing or complicated parts at your own leisure. Some congregations provide space in the bulletin for notes. You may want to take notes and file them according to the Scripture passage on which the sermon is based.
3. Maintain good posture. Avoid slouching.
Sit upright with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your palms on your thighs. Beware of the impulse to slouch or cross your arms as these can encourage drowsiness. Don’t lean against your neighbor - whether that is a parent, sibling, or friend - unless that person gives you permission.
4. Listen to the law.
You may feel an emotional munch when the preacher names the sinner in you. Pay attention to your reaction, and try to focus on waiting for the gospel rather than becoming defensive. For help in understanding and personalizing God’s law, see “John Calvin’s Three Uses of God’s Law” p.88
5. Listen for the gospel.
This will come in the form of a sentence most likely starting with the name Jesus and ending with the words **for you**. Upon hearing the gospel, you may feel a physical lightness, as though you’ve set down a great burden. You may cry tears of joy. This is a fine response to the Word of God.
6. End by saying, “Amen.”
Since preaching is mostly God’s work, honor the Word by sealing the moment with this sacred word, which means, “It is most certainly true!”
If you’ve written notes, read through them later that day or the next day and consider corresponding with the preacher if you have questions or need clarification, If you’ve taken mental notes, review them in a quiet moment. Consider sharing this review time with others in your congregation or household on a weekly basis.