How to hear a good sermon


Sermons.  If you are a follower of Jesus, you will hear a lot of them.  Sometimes, sermons seem to have greater value as a punch line than as spiritual food.  Yet, we keep preaching them.  The reason is that the Word of God matters.  It can change your life.  We need to be in the bible for ourselves daily.  Research demonstrates that those who read the bible regularly are changed by it, but that same research says that over 80% of churchgoers do not read the bible daily.  You can read about that here.  Other research, found here, indicates that out of Americans who do read their bibles, almost 60% read their bibles four times or less in an entire year.  That doesn’t make sense to me, but it is where we stand.  And, it highlights the importance of the weekly sermon.

The average Christian is almost solely dependant upon the sermon for their exposure to the life changing Word of God.

Now, I recommend that you read your bible.  Please… your bible, but if you are going to depend so heavily on a sermon for your intake of God’s Word, you better make the most of it.

One of Jesus favorite sayings was “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Jesus would repeat that statement again and again.  Why?

The clear implication is that you can listen to a sermon and not hear the sermon.  There is far more to it than the physical process of receiving sound waves into the ear canal.  There is a spiritual process of allowing those words to wash over your heart and mind so that they can do there work of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16,17).

Are you hearing the sermons that you are listening to?  The test is simple.  Are you doing anything about them?  Are they changing you in some way?  If not, we often start by laying blame at the feet of the teacher.  They are not doing their job.  They are boring.  They are too shallow.  They don’t teach me anything new.  They …..    Now, some teachers are better than others.  It’s true, but what is interesting is that Jesus laid the responsibility at the feet of the hearer.

Maybe the problem isn’t the sermon.  Maybe you need to be a better hearer.  How?

I could give you a number of suggestions, but the one that really matters is this:  Listen to every sermon with the expectation that God will speak to you.  I would add that this is also the most important factor in getting something of value out of your personal reading of Scripture.  Your expectations make all the difference.

Think about how we often go into a sermon.  We are worried about enduring it rather than being changed by it.  Our primary goal is eyes open rather than heart open.  If the guy teaching isn’t our favorite, we mentally check out till next week.  Obviously, teachers bear responsibility to present the Word of God well.  I always remember Howard Hendricks saying that it was a sin to bore people with the bible.  He never did and I don’t want to either.  Yet, it is the expectations of the hearer that can change a ho-hum sermon into a life changer.

A sermon is a proclamation of the Word of God.  It is not a referendum on the teachers outfit, haircut, or speaking style.  It is an opportunity to hear from God.  Treat it that way.  Here is some help.

  • Don’t go through the motion of the opening prayer.  Pray and ask God to speak to you.
  • Have the attitude of a learner.  Believe that God has a message that you need.
  • Be engaged by having bible open, journal open and pen in hand.  Take notes.
  • Check any attitudes that are hindering your ability to hear.
  • Don’t watch the clock.  Be present.  Meet with God.
  • Don’t be content with knowledge.  Look for application.

You need to be in the bible daily.  You really do, but regardless of how often you open the Word, make the most out of every sermon you hear.  Come to it with the expectation to not hear from a man but from God.   If you have ears to hear, I guarantee that He is speaking and his sermons are always great.





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3 thoughts on “How to hear a good sermon

  1. So relevant this morning, Kevin.,Our pastor is on sabattical until the end of October. There is sometimes that dread on Sunday morning “, wonder who it is today.”
    Thanks for the “sermon slap.
    Love you!”