How to Get More Out of Your Pastor’s Sermons

How to Get More Out of Your Pastor’s Sermons

Your heart as you drive to Church on Sunday should be brimming with anticipation not because you expect some entertainment or life-changing emotional moment. Rather, you should be excited that God is going to teach you through your Pastor so that your life can change to better reflect Christ in the coming week.

I always enjoy reading and recommending books on how to become a better Church member. There are many books on becoming a better preacher, counselor, or pastor but not as many focused on the average Church attender. Many believers don’t fully understand what their role is as a normal Church member. One outworking of this uncertainty is how people respond to their Pastor’s sermon. A question commonly asked is how to get more out of your pastor’s sermons?

One of my favorite books to recommend for instructing normal Church members is “Duties of Christian Fellowship” by John Owen. It is short, accessible, and intensely practical. If you have not read this book, I recommend you do so and then purchase a few dozen to give out at your Church. It truly is gold and I cannot possibly recommend it enough. Drop whatever you are currently reading and get through this book first; it is that important.

The first section of the book deals with the question of how to get more out of your pastor’s sermons. The quote below is worthy of consideration, particularly the last sentence.

The failure to consider these principles is the cause of all the negligence, carelessness, laziness, and indiscipline while hearing the world, which has taken hold of so many these days. Only a respect for the truth and authority of God in the preaching of his word will bring men to hear it soberly and profitably. It is also the case that men grow tired of hearing the word only after they have grown tired of putting it into practice.

Duties of Christian Fellowship” by John Owen, emphasis added

What the Quote Means

“Duties of Christian Fellowship” is organized around “rules” for Church members. The first 7 deal with how Church members should interact with the Pastor and the second set of 15 focuses on how Church members should interact with each other. The quote given above comes after the very first rule Owen gives: Christians should regularly attend a local Church to listen to preaching and to partake in the ordinances.

But as in every era of Church history, not every person puts a high emphasis on the public preaching of God’s word. Owen’s answer is given in the quote: most of the time believers tire of hearing the word preached because they have long since stopped trying to apply the sermons they here. In other words:

What Owen does here is shift the focus of the question “how can you get more from your pastor’s sermons” from the pastor to the Church member in the pew. If you aren’t “getting anything” from the faithful preaching of God’s word, the first problem to examine is in the mirror, not the Pastor. What Owen writes is right in line with the first chapter of James:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:22-25 ESV, emphasis added

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