The longer I preach the more I learn. While it should be that way and it’s a good thing, at times that learning opens up some windows into the way I do things that I don’t always like to look through. It makes me realize that I might be wrong about some things or might need to change little bit. One of those windows that’s been opened involves the speed at which we move on from sermon to sermon to sermon.
People come into a church building on Sunday, mostly unprepared for what they are going to hear. We spend 20-40 minutes sharing a message from scripture. Much of that message is hard to retain in our minds because we are easily distractible or lose focus. Between the presentation itself, plus all the distractions in the auditorium, it’s a not always a great environment to learn for lasting impact. Then, after the sermon is done, we move into a Bible class where something similar happens only with an entirely different topic. Then the following Sunday we do it all over again.
What I’ve come to learn is this is a difficult method to lead to lasting change. Be honest right now. How many parts of this past Sunday’s sermon or Bible class can you remember right now? There are week’s I preach the sermon and I’m having to wrack my brain for what I preached on. We tend to have a very “on to the next one” way of looking at the preaching and teaching that we hear. If we are trying to convey the need for God’s word to change our lives, I think we need to ask if something more needs to be done. Is there a solution?
Don’t take from these words that I think we should stop preaching and teaching. Scripturally this is the pathway that God has given to us to grow in our faith and learn. Instead of ditching preaching and teaching, I think it would benefit us to reimagine what it looks like to reinforce what is preached and taught. What are things we could do to help everyone listening retain and better act upon what they’ve learned?
In Acts 2:42 and following we are told that one of the things the early church did was devote itself to the apostle’s teaching. I think that word devote is a key ingredient we need to recapture. We move so quickly from topic to topic that we can’t truly devote ourselves to any of them. When we think of devotion we tend to think of focusing deliberately on something. There’s not a lot of room for that in the way we normally do things. What does devotion look like in this instance though?
I don’t think it means we spend a year on one topic and never move from it. I don’t think it means that we can’t preach and teach on different subjects. What I do think is needed though are reminders. Imagine what might happen if each week we continued to discuss what was talked about on Sunday. Imagine what would happen if we spent time each week considering the practical ways those words affect our lives.
So for the preacher, what might this look like? I’m going to start writing posts or recording videos related to what I preach or teach. My hope is that by reengaging in these topics that people are drawn to consider them more and more throughout each week. For those of you that don’t preach or teach let me encourage you to spend time during the week rereading the text that was covered on Sunday. Let me encourage you to have conversations with other believers during the week about what was talked about. If we are going to make lasting changes in our lives, it won’t happen by moving on from what we’ve heard but instead reinforcing it in our minds.
If you’ve got suggestions, something you do or something you’d tried, feel free to comment. I’d love some feedback on what you do help what you’ve learned stick in your mind.