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Monday Is for Membership: Expositional Listening, Part 2

November 10, 2008

Last week, we began our discussion on What Is a Healthy Church Member? by discussing the first chapter focused on “expositional listening.”  In part 2, I want to lay out the “how to’s” provided by Anyabwile.  He provides six ways to cultivate exposition listening (with some personal commentary added below):

1.  Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time.

If you know what text your pastor is going to preach, then take time during your devotional study to mediate on the upcoming passage he will be preaching.  If he is preaching through a book of the Bible, especially a short epistle, perhaps you could take 15 minutes and read out loud the entire letter to get the whole context.  Then dig in through outlining the text and meditating on the meaning of the passage as directed by the Scripture and God’s Spirit.

2.  Invest in a good set of commentaries.

Commentaries are a great resource, but they should never substitute first-hand investigation into a text.  In other words, never be a second-hander and assume a commentator to be infallible!  Having said that, there are some great commentaries out there that worth checking out, including John Calvin’s Commentaries, James Montgomery Boice, R. Kent Hughes, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Owen, and many others.

3.  Talk and pray with friends about the sermon after church.

He writes,

“Start spiritual conversations by asking, ‘How did the Scriptures challenge or speak to you today?’  Or, ‘What about God’s character most surprised or encouraged you?'”

After worship services, especially during lunch or supper time with the family, the sermon serves as a great centerpiece of discussion for family and friends.  The more the sermon is talked about and prayed over, the more fruit you will enjoy as a result.

4.  Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week.

One of the great advantages we have in our high-tech world today is the possibility to download, listen, and broadcast audio and video on demand.  As Anyabwile notes, a listening to a sermon does not have to be a one-time event!  But the key is “on demand.”  In other words, do you have a desire to spend time hearing God’s Word throughout the week?  How about on the commute to and from work/school?  Working out in the gym or in the yard?  There are numerous opportunities to tune in to God’s Word proclaimed on a daily basis!

5.  Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself.

In other words, engage the text.  Don’t be a passive non-participant to the sermon.  Be a good Berean and search the Scriptures daily to see whether the things are so (Acts 16:11).

6.  Cultivate humility.

He writes,

“[D]o not become a ‘professional sermon listener’ who is always hearing but never learning.  Beware of a knowledge that ‘puffs up’ (1 Cor. 1:8; Col. 2:18) and tends to cause strife and dissention.  Mortify any tendencies toward pride, the condemnation of others, and critical nit-picking.  Instead, seek to meet Jesus each time you come to the Scripture; gather from the Word fuel for all-of-life worship” (25).

Next week, we will consider mark #2 of a healthy church member: biblical theology.  May God give us ears to hear, hearts to obey, and lives changed by the power of His Word!

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