Engaging a Sermon Takes Effort
Actively engaging a sermon is not automatic. At least, not at first. It is easy for any of us to get into a rut of showing up for corporate worship and going through the motions. We are conditioned to expect things to come easy with little effort on our part. Yet, the Word of God expects that we will train ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). In order to do this, we must expend some holy sweat as we sit under the preaching of God’s Word. Here are twelve ways to expectantly engage a sermon on the Lord’s Day that will provide growth and encouragement while benefiting the whole church. Consider printing the list out and reviewing them often. Add more creative ways to the list in order to engage sermons in a refreshing, exciting way.
Twelve Ways to Engage
1.) Pray for your Pastor, both for his weekly preparation and sermon delivery.
2.) Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the hearers and the preacher.
3.) Pray for a receptive heart and alert mind to be sensitive to the truths of God's Word before, during, and after the sermon.
4.) Keep your Bible open and turn to cross references as much as possible.
5.) Take notes if it does not distract you from listening to the sermon.
6.) Talk about a few highlights at lunch or throughout the day.
7.) Expect that the Lord is going to speak to His people.
8.) Pray for the Lord to grow your congregation in spiritual depth.
9.) Read the sermon text at least once during the week, maybe write it out.
10.) Pray and ask the Lord to cause His Word to grow your congregation numerically, particularly by conversion.
10.) Ask questions of the text and interact through investigation.
11.) Keep a journal of your discoveries and review it on occasion.
12.) Ask the Lord to help you be a doer of God’s Word rather than a hearer only.
The Power of Curiosity
A curious mind is a powerful thing. This is especially true as it pertains to searching out the truths of Scripture. What we once viewed as dull and uninteresting becomes alive and invigorating through curiosity. Consider bringing another translation of the Bible into your personal study. This helps you get a different sense of a passage. You might see a wider range of meaning of particular words and phrases. No one translation gets it perfectly right every time. As you take notes during the sermon, ask some penetrating questions that lead to exploration. A curious mind will see the value in the time and effort spent in investigation. You might ask your pastor how he develops his sermons each week. Consider the process your pastor goes through to bake the fresh bread each week. Exploring this process could lead to new ways to grow your curiosity during the week in preparation for the upcoming sermon. Pursue these few options and come up with a few of your own. I believe your curiosity for God’s Word will flourish!
What Do You Expect?
Is your Bible living and active? Do you expect the Word of God to do something powerful as you encounter it each Lord’s Day? Have you grown bored with sermons? Maybe its the preacher. But it could also be the listener participant. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. Depending on your perspective, this could be very scary or greatly encouraging. God’s Word discerns the thoughts and intentions of your heart. Isaiah 55:11 declares, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”. It has been declared, “this book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book”. Approach the Bible with the full knowledge that Scripture is living and active and will do something powerful.
Keep a journal of your discoveries and the immensely valuable treasures you find along the way. Your findings may lead you to more exciting insights as you continue mining the riches of God’s Word. You will find that you cannot possibly exhaust the depths of Scripture. What you once thought you knew may become the recognition of shallow perception masked as rote, familiar terrain. Review your journal on occasion to be reminded of the exhilarating treasures you have found. You just might receive some needed encouragement and help along the way.
Take an opportunity to create community during the week. Lead a short time of family worship using the sermon text or have a church member over for coffee, tea, dessert, or a meal. Go out to lunch with another same gender member to discuss your insights. This will likely lead to a more natural means of discipleship and help your church flourish. Creating community takes initiative on our part. It most certainly does not happen without our efforts. But the efforts will be well worth the investment as we see the Word of God thrive in biblical community.