Coming home from church at Sunday lunch time is a regular opportunity to chat with the children. Have we forgotten anyone? How was Sunday School? What did you learn? All the normal interrogatives to engage the next generation after a morning of church.
But what about after the sermon? What should I ask? There are several options:
1. What did you learn? This is the Sunday School question transferred to the church service. Perhaps it implies that preaching is primarily educative. Perhaps it suggests that the goal of the listener is to be intellectually stimulated by the preaching of the Word so that they come away better informed. Certainly this is a fair question and there is a content to the Christian faith that makes the question worthwhile. I suspect children of experiential meditative religions don’t get asked what they learned after visiting the temple. And I suppose sometimes it is the only question I suspect might get anything out of the children. But having said that, this shouldn’t be the only question to ask, for education is not the only goal in preaching.
2. How did the sermon change you? I suppose this is a worthwhile question since church is meant to be transformative rather than merely repetitive. On the one hand this question might train an expectation of transformation at the hearing of God’s Word. On the other hand, it might fan the flames of self-focus that is the scourge of fallen humanity. Perhaps the question can be modified slightly, “how did the sermon change you in response to Christ?”
3. How did the sermon make you feel? This is a riskier question when the answer might easily be “bored” or “sleepy.” But contrary to popular opinion, it is a legitimate question. God didn’t just design our brains, but also our emotions. Every sermon will have an “affect” on us. Sadly, too many will numb souls, rather than igniting hearts with fire in response to the love of God. Too many sermons will depress the listeners, rather than stirring deep within the kind of passion for God that is only fitting for those who hear His Word preached.
Too often I only feel comfortable asking the first question. Perhaps this is something for preachers to ponder, as well as Dads.