Listening to Others

One of the challenges of a regular preaching ministry is finding opportunity to listen to others.  There are ways to make it happen though – give your pulpit to someone else sometimes, create a preaching team if your church doesn’t have one, listen to sermons online, listen to Christian radio at the right time if you have the option to do so, attend a conference periodically.  Listening to others is worth the effort for several reasons:

You are a part of the body of Christ too.  It would be inconsistent to believe strongly in the need for believers to hear the Word preached, but separate yourself from that category!  Of course you learn in your study and often preparing and preaching a sermon makes far more impact than merely hearing it.  But the nature of the body of Christ indicates that you need to receive from the gifting of others, for they are gifted to build you up.

Different preaching can stimulate freshness in yours.  A different way of structuring the message.  A creative introduction.  An exemplary use of words.  A different style of illustration.  I’m not suggesting you listen to sermons only to pack your bag with goodies like a petty thief in a rich mansion (although Haddon Robinson does say “if you are going to steal from sermons, then go to a rich neighborhood”)  I am not suggesting you listen in order to emulate their preaching.  I am suggesting that listening can stimulate your preaching.

Hearing good and bad preaching can be highly motivating.  Hearing good preaching is motivating.  It is a delight to hear an expositor doing it well!  But also hearing poor preaching is motivating.  For instance, last spring I attended a three-day preaching congress.  Preacher after preacher.  Big names.  From big churches.  Several were absolutely excellent.  Very motivating.  Others were surprisingly or even shockingly poor.  Very motivating.  I came away charged up to be the best expository preacher I can be.  It is easy to start assuming everyone is handling the text as best they can and preaching expository sermons.  They’re not.  And when you are reminded of that, at a conference, or reading sermons online, you may find your engines fired to press on!

4 thoughts on “Listening to Others

  1. Peter,

    One of the hardest things I had to learn was to listen. In the past couple of years I have preached little, but have raised by game in studying homiletics and teaching homiletics. It was difficult and humbling to not preach every week. Yet I have learned much more by listening to others.

  2. Good comments Pete and Pastor Alan.

    I am looking for excellent “contemporary” preachers who are good expositors. My first pastorate was with an elderly congregation who loved 3 points and a poem. I now have a young group with a large youth group. If you all have any names of good contemporary preachers, and even better with podcasts, I’d appreciate it.

    I know it’s the same eternal gospel we preach, and even the applications will be the same through the generations, but is the way we communicate different between the builder generation and post-moderns?

    Love the blog. Have referred to my friends.

    Thanks, chip.

  3. I think this is very important. I like your first point. We preachers are members as well and we need to hear a word from the Lord as a hearer rather than a presenter.

    In addition, I think it is important to recognize that just hearing other people will, as you say, stir the “creative juices.”

    Back in the day when I was trying to learn Jazz (which I never was effective doing), one book I was reading talked about a musician who never could get his Jazz concept right. The teacher asked him, “Who do you listen to?” And the student said, “I don’t listen to anybody.” The Jazz musician told the student, “you will never be an effective Jazz musician unless you listen to and love Jazz music.”

    I think there is something there for us as preachers. We don’t copy the style or content of other preachers, but just listening to them will do things to us. We will see a different take on a text that we thought we fully knew. We will see how to integrate illustrations differently. We will be exposed to different approaches to structure a sermon.

    I think that listening to other preachers is probably the third most important component to good preaching, behind connection to God and regular Bible reading and study. Well perhaps that is hyperbole, but you get my point…

    God bless…

  4. I often listen to a sermon on my way to work. Something from the sermon then stays with me all day as I walk around school.

    As a rowdy class leaves and I have a moment before the next comes in I can take the time to reflect on something I have heard. And more often than not I end up thinking, “If I preached that passage I’d …” or “I’d never have thought of …”

    I am definately more likely to have a smile on my face in the day than if I just listened to the radio.

    It also fires me up for preaching. It’s good to hear good sermons and I find that good practice slowly seeps in to what I do.

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