Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes about spirituality as well as many other topics.
Preaching has been the main part of a worship service all over the world for over 2,000 years. Many things have changed radically since Peter preached the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2.
Some people listen to at least one sermon every week, and some people listen to more than one. Preachers spend many hours preparing sermons. Most preachers pray and seek God about what to share with His people. It is encumbered upon every listener to hear what God is telling them through the preacher.
Below is a short list of some ways people can get the most out of a sermon.
1. Be Prepared
Be prepared. You should not wait for a sermon to pump you up to pray, praise, and worship God just as an athlete does not enter a game without being prepared.
Many things happen in a church service before it is time for the preacher to deliver the word of God. If you wait for the sermon to enter into worship, then you have waited too long.
You might think because you aren't a greeter, usher, choir member, elder, deacon, trustee, or preacher, you don't have to prepare in advance for a Sunday service. If you are not prepared, you minimize your worship experience and will not hear all that God wants you to hear. In other words, you should prepare before the sermon, during the sermon, and after the sermon.
2. Go to Church Expecting
You should worship before you go to church. You will already be behind if you don't, and you will have to "catch up" if you go to church unprepared and not expecting to hear a word from God. Those who expect nothing are never disappointed because they get exactly what they expect — nothing!
Before you enter corporate worship, you should have had your morning prayer and praise long before you get to your local church. If you wait to pray, "Thank you, God, for waking me up this morning" then you are saying that a few hours later than it should have been said. You should have prayed that prayer as soon as you woke up. Instead, pray that God will speak to you during the service, especially through the preached word.
3. Enter the Church with Thanksgiving
The greatest way to thank and praise God is to worship Him, and the greatest way to worship Him with others is to “enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4).
4. Before the Sermon
It would be very helpful to engage and participate in the elements of the service before the sermon. That means arriving at church early before the service begins. Everyone should be in their seats getting centered for the church service, and not just for the sermon.
Some folks deliberately arrive at church late to hear only the sermon. They miss many things leading up to the sermon. They miss the opening prayer, the singing, the announcements, the offering, and other things that take place before the sermon. Besides, latecomers distract the people who are already there.
5. During the Sermon
It is not the preacher's fault if you get very little out of his sermon. What you get out of the sermon depends greatly on you, the listener. The preacher does not know who will be impacted by the sermon or what part of the sermon will resonate with any one of the listeners, but God knows.
There could be 500 congregants, and something the preacher says will prick and penetrate the hardest of hearts while bouncing off the hearts of others who are not ready to receive the spoken word.
Listening to the preached word should lead to obedience. We see the words, “He who has ears, let him hear" in several places in the Gospels: Matthew 11:15, Matthew 13:9; Luke 8:8; and Luke 8:13.
In order to get the most out of a sermon, a person should listen. So, the relevant questions are: "How does a person listen to a sermon?" What is the right way to listen to a sermon?
A person can and should listen to a sermon in the following ways:
- Listen attentively.
- Stay focused.
- Avoid distractions.
- Follow along with the biblical text for further study after the preacher gives the benediction and the church doors have closed.
- Take notes only if you can do so and listen at the same time. Not everyone has that talent. Instead, jot down the text and keywords so you can read the passage later when you get home.
- Learning to listen to a sermon in the right way will enhance a person's life. Therefore, listen so you will grow spiritually.
6. After the Sermon
Usually, the sermon is the last section of a worship service. Then the preacher gives the benediction. Unless it is a dire emergency, always stay until the benediction for two important things to happen.
- The preacher seals the preached words.
- The preacher blesses the congregation.
If you leave before the benediction, you will miss the final prayer of the worship service.
If you feel you missed something the preacher said during the live service, there are things you can do after the sermon has been preached.
- Invest in buying a tape of the sermon.
- The worship services of many churches these days are posted on Facebook and YouTube. You can watch and listen to those services to hear what you might have missed.
- Discuss the sermon with family members around the Sunday dinner table while the sermon is still fresh on everybody's minds. Do not argue because everyone might have heard something different.
- Discuss the sermon in a small group session during the week.
- Meditate during the week on the part of the sermon that impacted you the most.
- Take notice of confirmations. God might speak to you through other ways to confirm what you heard during the Sunday's sermon.
7. Until the Next Sermon
In order to be ready and excited about attending a church service the next time, go back to Number 1 and follow the guidelines.
- Be prepared.
- Go to church expecting.
- Be early or on time.
- Enter the church with thanksgiving and praise.
- Be attentive and focused during the sermon.
- Stay for the benediction for the final blessing.
- Meditate on the sermon until you hear the next one.
- Why You Should Not Leave a Church Service Before the Benediction
People should never leave a religious service before the benediction unless it is an emergency.