5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Sunday's Sermon

James 1:22-25
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

For hundreds of years, the Church has gathered as one Body around the world on Sunday mornings to worship our Savior. Whether Christ-followers enter a cathedral with high, ornate ceilings, or sneak an underground room, they know that God is present and community is a gift.

So why is it that so many of us scramble into the service late, stressed, and aggravated? Why is it that the second the service is finished, we jump back into daily life, forgetting about the past hour of being in the presence of God?

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like." 
-James 1:23-24

But what if we didn’t allow the Word of God go in one ear and out the other? What if we were transformed by the Word, “being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts” (James 1:25)?  

5 ways to get the most out of the Sunday Sermon:

  1. Prepare your heart before church.
    • Set your alarm earlier than you have to get up.  Allow yourself  to press snooze. Try to make waking up as peaceful as you can.
      TIP: If you have kids who are old enough, set an alarm for them as well. Tell them that if they get up before the alarm goes off, they may play quietly in their room, or even begin to get ready.
    • Play worship music as you are getting ready. 
      • But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. Psalm 59:16

    • Get to church on time… peacefully. The easiest way to be zapped out of the mood to worship our Creator is to be stressed to the max on the way in the door. This can happen by being late, or even by being on time, but angry at the slow people in the family. 
      • Married? You know that one of you tends to be the late one. Be kind to each other.
      • Have kids? Parents, it’s your responsibility to lovingly prepare your family to leave the house. 
        • I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord! Psalm 122:1
  2. Focus.
    • Be all there. Turn off the cell phone. Wait to write your shopping list. Remind yourself that this is a holy (set-apart) time. Do not sink into the routine of singing, shaking hands, singing, listening, communion, singing.
  3. Take Notes.
    • Grab a notebook and a Bible and follow along. Take notes about new things that you are learning, Scripture references used, and main points of the sermon. Also, jot down any reflective questions that could be helpful to you later.
      • I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
  4. Make a plan.
    • In the American church, there is usually time after the sermon for reflection and prayer. Write action steps or reflections of what God is revealing in your heart. 
  5. Monday Replay.
    • As you begin your week, spend some time reviewing the previous day’s sermon. If your church records and posts the sermon online, go back and relisten to it. Review the passage and your notes. Look up cross-references. Check out your action steps you wrote. 
    • Spend time in prayer, walking through the main points of the sermon. See God’s goodness. Repent of sin.  Acknowledge Christ’s forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross. 
      • In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us… Ephesians 1:7-8a

You might be thinking of the million reasons why the steps above will not work for your situation (I am specifically referring to point #1).  However, it’s worth a try and if at first you don’t succeed, you always have next week.

Christians in America have become experts at conviction—and failures at action.
— Francis Chan

James shows us the importance of hearing the Word, yes, but doing something with it as well. May God continue to work in our hearts to be doers who act and not hearers who forget.

See You In The Round!