Seven Ways Church Members Should Prepare for a Sermon
This article by Thom Rainer has first appreared on www.thomrainer.com website.
What if church members began their own form of sermon preparation?
For countless decades, we have heard about the role of pastors in sermon preparation. The number of hours they need to prepare. The priority of preparation. The role of prayer in sermon preparation.
But what if church members prepared for each sermon they heard? What if they believed their roles as recipients of the Word are also crucially important?
I can see incredible church revitalization taking place if church members took on their own responsibilities of sermon preparation. Here are seven ways members can actively prepare for sermons.
- Pray for the sermon. For a few minutes, the church member should pray for the upcoming sermon. That prayer might take place during the week, the night before the preaching, or the morning of the preaching.
- Pray for the pastor who is preaching. Pray that the pastor will understand God’s message for that text. Pray that the pastor will have no distractions. Pray that God’s Spirit will fill the pastor in both the preparation and delivery of the sermon.
- Pray for yourself as you prepare to hear the sermon. Pray that God will speak to you through the message. Pray that you will not be distracted. Pray for clarity of mind and an open heart to receive the message.
- Read the biblical text before the sermon is preached. If possible, read the text from which the pastor will preach. Read it thoroughly. Read it prayerfully.
- Take notes. Take notes as the pastor preaches. You will have a greater focus and greater retention. Review the notes at least once during the next week.
- Seek an application to your life. Ask God for discernment to help you understand how the sermon should change your life. Seek to understand the sermon not only in its biblical context, but in your life as well.
- Share with the pastor “one thing.” If possible, share with your pastor one significant takeaway from the sermon. Pastors hear countless “good job, pastor,” or “nice message, pastor,” but they long to know if God really made a difference in the lives of the church members through the preached word. If you are able to communicate just one takeaway from the sermon in person, by email, or in social media, your pastor will be greatly encouraged.
The preaching of God’s Word is central to the life of the church. It makes sense that pastors should give it the highest priority.
But it also make sense that church members should prepare as well.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.