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How do we listen to a sermon?

October 13, 2010

“There should be nothing casual about our listening, as if this were ‘just another sermon’ or simply ‘what always happens at this point in our meetings’.  When Ezra the preacher opened the written word to read and preach it, all the people stood up as a mark of respect and attentiveness (Nehemiah 8:5).  In the same way, there ought to be a reverent hush as the Bible is read and preached in our meetings.  Sometimes in sermons we will smile at ourselves and our foolishness (preachers do well from time to time to invite us to laugh at such things) but we will never be light or flippant about the voice of God.”

Christopher Ash, Listen Up, p. 5.

Does this not also mean that pastors must not be casual, flip or light when preparing, praying and preaching a sermon?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    October 14, 2010 11:49 AM

    Flippant is not good, but funny can be a positive in preaching when used for the right reasons. Humor can break down barriers and is good and godly medicine for the soul. Humor is able to make the preacher come across as more personal and human, and make the listener more comfortable and open to listening. While preachers are not called to be stand-up comics, they can be humorous and holy at the same time. Wisdom says there is a time to laugh and a time to cry; wise is the pastor who knows when to do both in the pulpit.

    (p.s. Ordered the book yesterday from Westminster.)

    • October 14, 2010 12:14 PM

      Well said, Chris. I think the author might be making allowance for this when he says, “Sometimes in sermons we will smile at ourselves and our foolishness”. I admit, though, that that statement is more reserved than what I think can be the place of humor in a sermon, a place which you more adequately express.
      Would you say that in our time that there is an over-use of humor in sermons and that a quote like this might pull some who use it excessively to at least think again about its proper use in sermon?

      • Chris permalink
        October 18, 2010 9:04 PM

        Not in the pastors I listen to the most.

        I think there can be an overuse of sensationalism for the sake of a sensation or hipness for the sake of just being hip. I think people laughed during Jesus’ preaching more often than we can imagine due to being so far from the culture. People also probably left far more sober, serious, sin-conscious, and Savior-aware than what occurs today.

        There is no doubt that a book like “Listen Up” is needed today more than ever. Maybe a follow up could be written: “Act Out: How to be a Doer of the Word”

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