How long an average sermon lasts may depend on how “squirmy” your child is, whether you remembered turn off the oven, or what time the football game kicks off!
A typical sermon has between 4,000 and 5,000 words (that adds up to about half a million words from the pulpit each year). I generally take copious notes when someone else preaches, because I don’t get much “practice” at listening to sermons! From the standpoint of someone who has to really “work” at it to listen to a sermon, here are some things YOU can do to help you get more out of any sermon you hear.
First, prepare the “ground” for the seed, Luke 8:11. You don’t plant a garden without first breaking up the ground, and preparing it for seeds (note Luke 8:8 & 15). Here are some steps that will help with preparing our “mental ground” before you leave home.
- Before coming to worship, pray: Pray for an open heart, like Lydia’s (Acts 16:14), and pray for wisdom to use and apply what you hear.
- Next, “wash” your mind clean of worldly cares; this takes a conscious effort (and practice)! Don’t be discouraged!
The second thing is to LISTEN CAREFULLY! Ancient Jewish worship was not like ours; when the Scriptures were read, the whole congregation stood in respect and reverence for God’s word (e.g., Nehemiah 8:5). When God’s word was read or taught, the people were silent so that they would not miss anything. Read the passages cited or quoted, and underline key verses that support the main thought. (NOTE: You need to bring your own Bible to do this!) Underlining helps you remember; it emphasizes the lesson on that page of your Bible, and it helps you be more familiar with your own Bible.
The third thing way to get more out of a sermon is to TAKE NOTES! This helps you get the main points of a lesson down on paper where you can see “the whole picture” (it also lets you get passages you don’t have time to look up!). You don’t have to know shorthand, and you don’t need to write a book!
Last, review the lesson. Try to discuss the topic after worship, review your notes, and pick up the points you missed. Make time to meditate on how the lesson can/should affect you personally; if the message is true to the scripture, then practice what has been preached.
If you do these things, you’ll get a good benefit from even the dullest, driest sermons you hear! And you’ll get even more out of the good ones!