Wow…what a cold, harsh winter we are having…and it’s only February! You all know how much I love the cold….NOT! Spring cannot come soon enough in my book! The United Methodist Church has a proud tradition of believing that God’s Word comes to us through preaching and the sacraments. This month, I would like to share with you some ways on how to listen to a sermon.
Most of this material comes from “The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook.” Are you ready? Here we go! When listening to a sermon:
1. Review active listening skills. While the listener in this case doesn’t get to speak, the sermon is still a conversation. Make mental notes as you listen. Take notice of 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. Most Sundays, there is an outline for you on the back of your bulletin. It is constructed for you to actively listen and think about what you hear from the pulpit.
3. Maintain good posture. Avoid slouching. Sit upright and with your body at a state of “readiness” to hear God’s Word.
4. Listen for the hurting places. You may feel an emotional pinch when the pastor names the sinner in you or the brokenness in our society. Pay attention to your reaction, and try to focus on waiting for the gospel rather than becoming defensive.
5. Listen for the Gospel. This might well come in the form of a sentence starting with the name of 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. After all, it is called Good News! You may cry tears of joy. This is normal.
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!”
7. Review and reflect. If you’ve taken notes, read through them later that day or the next day and consider corresponding with the pastor 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.
One final thing. Each Sunday, one of the joys I have is to greet each of you as you depart from the sanctuary. As you come forward to greet me, if you have information you wish for me to remember, this is not the best time to share that with me verbally. Quite honestly, I probably won’t remember it! Please jot it down on a note to give to me, or slip a note in the offering plate and the ushers will ensure I get your note. Of course, you can always call the church office (320-679-2713) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org); that will give me a better chance to respond to your request. My desire is to be of help to anyone who asks…please help me with this so I can respond to needs efficiently. I appreciate your help.
We are continuing in our series from the pulpit on prayer this month; plan to attend and bring a friend! May the Lord richly bless you! I am honored to serve you.