We live in a unique time. Never before have people been able to listen to so many sermons in a week. When they leave church on a Sunday morning, they can then take their synced iPods and listen to preaching for the rest of the week. At the supermarket, in the gym, while commuting, at work in some cases, etc. I’ve mentioned before how this can be massively intimidating for a normal preacher (to have their listeners feeding on the world’s finest, or in some cases, the world’s flashiest, for the rest of the week). I’ve mentioned that we shouldn’t be intimidated, or feel hopeless in competition with highly skilled communicators that have been well edited.
But what about our listening? Should we, as preachers, be listening to other preachers? Yes. And no.
Yes. It is good to listen to other preachers. First and foremost, it is important to be fed ourselves. Good preparation does feed us, perhaps more than those we preach to, but we still need to hear from someone else. I have a preacher or two that I listen to so that I can be challenged and encouraged. Secondly, it can be helpful to observe how others are handling texts and preaching opportunities. I don’t like to listen to a sermon on the text I’m about to preach as it is hard not to be overly guided by it, but to observe and learn is a good thing.
And no. I don’t think it is good to listen to too many other preachers. It can become overwhelming. You can end up wanting to do a bit of that like him, and some of that like him, and then it’s great how he, and oh, when he does that, etc. If you’re not careful you can end up preaching like a medley of other voices and lose your own. Listening to other preaching can be helpful. Listening to too much can make it so you lose your own quiet before God, and end up preaching not out of being with Him, but as a preaching karaoke machine.
Do you listen to others? Why? How much?