I’ve taken time to listen to popular churches and pastors over the last week while on vacation. Every single sermon was encouraging in one way or another. However, regardless of the stories or illustrations, the encouragement to my walk with Christ was consistently from the parts of the sermon that were related to explaining what Scripture means and the various implications of the truth.
On average it was 10-12 minutes before many guys I listened to opened the Word. Main stream preaching seemingly spends 1/3 or more of the sermon focused on the effort of connecting with the congregation. Often this happens through stories and/or a series of statements similar to the following:
“You may have heard…”
“It’s possible that…”
PASTOR: I’d like to encourage you to get into Scripture as quickly as possible, explain it, reveal implications to modern day circumstances, and then as best as possible apply it directly to your church and the lives of those in attendance.
CHURCH MEMBER: I’d like to encourage you to actively listen to the sermon. Preaching is a two way relationship, it’s like playing catch. One person throws and the other stands ready waiting for the toss. That’s your role in preaching, to be ready, engaged, anticipating the Word. I compare the effort of a pastor to make you want to listen like talking to a person who is looking at facebook on their phone. Or you can compare it to when a dad is playing toss with his kids, but has to get their attention before each throw.
You might be thinking “What about the fact that the world is less Christian and we need to make church service more attractive?”
1. If someone attends your church service, it’s reasonable to assume they expect you to use the Bible, so meet their expectation with the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that when He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself.
2. Pastor prepare for those who will come. Be cautious of diminishing the spiritual growth of your church by focusing on what might be, and instead equip the church to be on mission in your community and across the globe. Your best strategy for reaching your community with the Gospel is through the lives of the growing Christians in your church.
3. Church Member come to worship to exalt Christ and be equipped to love faithful to the Lord in all things. Join your pastor in the sermon by leaning in, taking notes, and talking about the sermon with your family and friends.