How to Listen Well to Online Sermons

This article was first published by Matthias Media, a publishing ministry that equips disciples for disciple-making, and has been reproduced with permission.

Most Christians consider the Sunday sermon to be a staple of their spiritual diets. It’s a nutritious meal that the family of believers share as they open up to the weekly Bible passage together and receive through the preaching of God’s word. It’s a tremendous blessing to receive the preaching together for the sustenance of our souls.

Yet, ever since the start of the pandemic, it has been difficult for me to chew this weekly meal. As social distancing regulations were set in place, accountability structures became disrupted. Who is there to tap me when I doze off, or to ask me what I found encouraging about the sermon? As church worship shifts online, congregants are given full discretion to tune in and out of the livestream at their own convenience, often affected by screen fatigue from other days.

Does this describe your experience of online church? Consumerism, computer screen syndrome, and the competing distractions at home make listening to sermons online a challenging endeavour. What should we do to be better listeners of the preached word of God and to be spiritually nourished despite being online?

1. Prepare for the meal

If spiritual nourishment is as important to us (and it absolutely should be), we should make ourselves ready for the weekly banquet.

In order for us to have a whetted appetite for the preaching of the Word, beforehand we can:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep
  2. Catch up on last week’s sermon
  3. Eat, so that hunger doesn’t distract us
  4. Read the anticipated Bible passage
  5. Pray, thanking God for your pastor’s faithful preparation and asking for attentiveness and a responsive heart.

2. Respect the meal

Regardless of whether we are listening online or physically in a church building, we must remember that throughout the sermon God is speaking to us. We need to respect the meal that God has provided and recognize that his servants—our pastors—have worked strenuously to prepare it. Here are some ways we can give our utmost attention to the preaching of the Word:

  1. If you are using multiple screens, hide or close all your tabs.
  2. Put away other devices.
  3. Avoid the sensory distraction of snacking.
  4. Resist combining church with chores. You may be a good multitasker, but listening well requires full focus.
  5. Keep your Bible open and find what your pastor is saying in the text.
  6. Take down notes and questions you have about the passage and the sermon so you can process your thoughts and reflections later.

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Source: Church Leaders