Quick. Think fast. What did your pastor preach about last Sunday? What about last month? Last year?
If you’re like me, you probably had to think about the first question for a few moments but was able to remember. But go any further than the previous week and you’ll find it hard to recall.
I consider myself kind of a Bible nerd, so I know if I can only list a handful of sermons in my entire life that I remember, I’m sure I’m not alone.
Why We Attend Worship Services
We attend worship services for a variety of reasons, I’m sure, but one of the main ones is to hear the preaching of the Word. We want to know God on a deeper level, and we want the Word to speak to us. So how can that happen in a way that has more shelf-life than a week?
A New Idea
A few months ago, I had just finished a Bible study and was praying about what God wanted me to read next in my personal time. The thought hit me that my pastor was beginning a sermon series on the book of Joshua, so I decided I’d read along.
I spent days reading and rereading Joshua chapter one, and–insert Bible nerd characteristic here–I jotted down several notes and applications from what I read. Then, when Bro. Robin preached on Joshua 1, his words fell on more receptive ears.
Freshly familiar with the text, I instinctively listened more carefully and mentally noted concepts he brought out of the text — ones I hadn’t considered my own multiple readings.
It was like the passage began to take on multiple dimensions. And it stuck.
The Power of Repetition
When I was in marketing at my job outside of the home, I attended an advertising seminar. They explained that a person must be exposed at least three times to a message for it to penetrate. We as humans thrive on repetition by nature.
This is why, I believe, my pastor’s sermon reached me in ways it hadn’t before. And, conversely, my own Bible reading transformed by having a skilled, knowledgeable, prepared Bible teacher offer perspectives I hadn’t seen.
Another benefit came when a question surfaced in my personal reading that I couldn’t reconcile. I emailed my pastor and he promptly replied. I know my pastor is always available for questions I have with Scripture, but having freshly studied the text in more detail than I had, he was able to have a knowledgeable, ready response.
Not One or the Other
God didn’t create us to obtain the entirety of our spiritual nourishment from our pastor’s sermons. (That’s a lot of pressure a Bible teacher should never have to shoulder.) God created us instead to live off His Spirit-inspired Word. He wants to speak directly to us through that Word, both by His gifted messengers and in moments where it’s just us and God.
Notice I said both. He also didn’t make us to subsist only on our own study. God intentionally equips pastors and teachers for the building up of the Church and to equip the saints — that’s you and me — for the work of the Kingdom.
And He personally gave some…pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12 HCSB).
Challenge to You
Do you want to get the most out of your pastor’s sermons? Try what I did. I believe I’ve received and retained more from my pastor’s series on Joshua than any other series he has preached. I can’t tell you if it’s solely because I studied or because it happened to be a powerful message, but I definitely believe my personal study had much to do with my ears being ready to hear the message.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17 ESV).
Begin reading on your own what your pastor is preaching about. Pastors I know make it clear to the congregation what they are preaching about ahead of time, but if yours doesn’t, ask! He’ll most likely be thrilled to tell you!
Tell me, what is your pastor preaching about right now? Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear!