“There are a lot of good sermon listeners, but very few sermon doers.” – Rev. Billy Graham
In my lifetime, I’ve listened to more than 1500 sermons preached; some good, some not so good. Whether you’ve heard thousands of sermons or just a few, chances are good that you’ve left most of them at the door when you walked out.
For example, the pastor preaches a sermon on patience. During the sermon, you find yourself nodding your head in agreement with the content being preached and think, “I should start doing that in my life! Applying this could save a lot of arguing!” During the sermon, you’re focused and ready to take this message to the streets, or so you think. As the sermon concludes, something radical happens. You get to the exit doors of the church and it’s as if the sermon that was just preached was stolen from your memory. What happens?
You all of a sudden find yourself getting frustrated with your closest relatives and friends because everyone is indecisive and no one will say where they want to eat lunch. Your kids appear to be possessed in that they have excessive energy from the candy they were fed (to keep them quiet) during church. You now begin fighting with your spouse, trying to decide on who needs to round-up the kids because you both have a desire to call animal control because your kids now resemble wild animals and trying to catch them seems like an impossible task. You haven’t even made it to your car and applying the message you just heard on patience to your life no longer seems like a reality.
We’ve all been there. We’ve heard inspiring sermons only to walk out the door and somehow forget all that we just heard. How do we stop this trend of “sermon amnesia”? Here are a few practical steps that I have used to help me become a better sermon doer rather that just a sermon listener.
1. Listen for revelation, not inspiration
When you hear sermons preached, are you listening for inspiration or revelation? Start asking yourself, “What is it that God is trying to communicate to me?” Have you ever asked the question, “Why can’t I hear God”? God is not a distant force. He is a personal Father who desires a relationship with you and the most prevalent way he communicates to you is through His Word and those he has called to preach it.
2. Take notes
Don’t just write down what the preacher is saying (although that is helpful). Start writing down what you feel God is trying to communicate to you through the preacher and through the Scripture. Once you have that written down, you have something to reflect on when your “sermon amnesia” shows up immediately after the service.
3. Live it out
You’ve listened to what God is trying to reveal to you. You’ve written it down. Now ask yourself, “In what area does God want me to apply this?” Once you have identified it, DO IT!
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22