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Guest Blogger – Grandpastor Rick

October 7, 2008

Grandpastor Rick has three things going on in his life that are incredible obstacles to him actually letting a sermon at The Bridge change him – his job requires him to evaluate speakers and public communication, he’s studied theology himself, and his son is doing the preaching.  Despite all of those things, Dad ALWAYS comes away from a sermon talking about what he needs to change in his life so I asked him to “guest blog” about How to Listen to A Sermon.  This is long, but worth every word…

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For me, the pastor’s sermon is the highlight of my weekly Bible experiences. Every week, I try to spend some time reading it (my goal is to read it daily), memorizing a verse or two of it, and going to it when I’m thinking about a decision being made or giving someone else counsel concerning a life situation.

 

I think I like this kind of Biblical training best because there is a well-studied person whose walk with Christ I trust (or I’d choose a different church) doing the teaching. Not only that, I get to hear God’s story as it is being told through a personality, a personality I enjoy (or I’d choose a different church).

 

Over the years I’ve had to hone my skills when it comes to allowing the teaching ministry to affect my heart and the way I live life. Below you’ll find a few things I’ve had to learn to do or not to do in order to embrace what God is telling me through what Paul calls, “the foolishness of preaching  (1 Cor. 1:21).

 

  • Don’t critique it. When focused on evaluating grammar, the clothing choice of the teacher, the gaudiness of his Hawaiian shirt, etc… you cannot hear from God. He’s offering you a positive message and you’re drowning out that positive message with the mega decibel levels of negativity.
  • Seek substance, not style. Don’t ask the question… Is the teaching expository or topical, is this teacher funny or serious, did he make me laugh or cry, etc…?  The right question to ask is… “What truth that has been taught today does God want me to embrace and live out?” The goal of teaching the Bible is to tell you the truth, God’s truth. The truth connects with the head as well as the heart. A great teacher will connect with your heart as well as your head. Stories that illustrate often speak to the heart. Jesus told them. Facts speak to the head. Jesus proclaimed them. This past week I had the opportunity to preach five services for a more traditional church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. My goal was to awaken the hearts of the people so I told them what the Bible said and illustrated how God was doing those things by telling stories of how lives were changed at The Bridge. I was targeting the heart more than the head so I was more involved in telling stories that proclaiming information. The Holy Spirit did amazing things! If my goal had been to teach facts, information, and data about the Bible I would have done so and used very few stories. I believe the Holy Spirit would have done just as much as God’s Word would have still been honored and proclaimed. Both of these teaching styles are substantive as truth shared is still the ultimate goal and is accomplished either way.
  • As you listen, listen with your heart as well as your head. Oftentimes when listening to a sermon there is one or more, “spiritual aha moments,” the moments when a statement made resonates in the deepest part of my being. Unless I’ve had pizza for breakfast I realize this was a “God moment,” a truth that God wants me to take note of. I write that thought down. I then evaluate my life is this area and respond accordingly. In most instances I find out that I’m lacking in that area of my life or God is teaching me something I’ve never known before.
  • Before leaving church, commit to change. 2 Tim. 3:16 says that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”.  When realizing that the truth shared is rebuking me for a sin I’m involved in, I ask forgiveness and commit to change during the sermon or during the closing song. When being corrected for living in some way that contradicts God’s guidelines, I commit to living differently.
  • Before going to bed, have a plan. When I realize there is an area of life where I’m lacking, before going to bed, I make a mental plan, something concrete I can do to make change or get involved in new ways. I wake up Monday morning with that on my mind and work on transformation throughout the week.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    October 8, 2008 6:45 am

    GP Rick: Thanks for the blog. This is something that I struggle with constantly, that is, the “evaluation” of style, feel, etc, -vs- listening with BOTH my head and heart.

    I have chosen to do many of the same things that you mentioned with one addition.

    I pray that God illuminates one spec of teaching each week that I can honestly chew on and ingest. I do so that morning and then “remind God” as the service starts. OK-OK I remind ME! lol

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