Someone has rightly said, “Sermons are not particularly meant to be enjoyed. They are intended to change people’s lives.” Teaching is the Lord’s means of drawing people to Himself (John 6:44, 45). Thus, the sermon is an integral part of the worship assembly.
In this regard, preachers have an awesome responsibility. They are told, “Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16a). Most preachers give much prayer, thought, and study to their sermons.
Hearers, too, have an awesome responsibility. They are told, “Take care what you listen to” (Mark 4:24). Jesus also told them, “Therefore, take care how you listen” (Luke 8:18). Sadly, many never give much thought or effort to get more out of sermons. They allow various things from fussy children, their own daydreaming, and idle chit-chat, etc., to distract them from listening to God’s message. Don’t let distractions distract! Hearers need to prepare to hear.
One way to prepare is by intending to get more out of sermons. However, this requires concentration, effort, and the right attitude.
Another way to get more out of a sermon is by bringing a Bible and taking notes. Using a Bible helps the hearer to see “whether these things be so” (Acts 17:11). And, taking notes is an excellent way to keep the mind from wandering.
Finally, some physical preparation is necessary if one is to get more out of the sermon. Some come to worship too tired and too sleepy because they stayed up too late on Saturday night. Effort that ought to be given to scriptural, spiritual worship must be spent struggling to stay awake. A good night’s rest before Sunday will help one be alert and at his or her best for worship.
It is certainly true that the preacher must be prepared to preach the sermon. But, the hearer, too, must be prepared if the sermon is to accomplish its intended purpose.
— Mark Hanstein