Learnin' from a Sermon

Have you ever asked anyone what they learnt from a sermon, a conference, or any other learning situation? Chances are, they will remember how they felt about the experience, but not much about what they learnt. Over and over again the Bible emphasises the importance of wisdom and knowledge. Neither is merely downloaded by the Holy Spirit. Here are some hints on how to position yourself so the Holy Spirit can ‘lead you into all truth’ (John 16:13).

DON’T arrive late. Get to the venue in plenty of time to introduce yourself to some new people, find a good seat and be ready to join in with the first worship song. You get the best from any event if you are ready to receive from the Holy Spirit right at the start. It is not the role of the worship team or speaker to get you ‘in the zone’. That’s your responsibility.

DON’T expect the speakers to be anointed. Praise God, they will be, but you can safely assume that they have worked many anointed hours to prepare something that will change your life. The real anointing comes when you meditate on the word they bring.

DO dress comfortably. Forget the tight jeans if you are going to be seated for long periods.

DO take notes on your iPad or other device. No iPad? Try a myPad, a simple note pad with a pen or pencil! You remember much more when you write it down. You could also record a speaker. I use an app on my smart phone that works brilliantly. I can easily upload from my phone to the cloud when I run out of memory. (Never publish a recording unless you have permission to do so.)

DO be an active listener. As soon as you know the topic, form some questions and listen for the answers. Listen for scripture references, and new ideas, information or evidence. Check all the scripture references. Note areas of agreement. Note areas of disagreement for later follow up.

DO go over your notes, preferably with a bunch of friends and a good cup of coffee. Here are the three best questions to ask:

·      What was the most important new thing that I learnt?

·      What was the most important question left unanswered?

·      What was the thing that I least understood?

You might find answers to the latter two questions at later sessions if you are at a conference, or your friends might help. If you have the opportunity, ask the speakers. Check out their web pages or blogs. Email them if they publish their address. As a speaker myself, I love to receive feedback and discuss my points, even if there is disagreement. It is always encouraging to know that someone was listening.

And, yes, it is OK to enjoy the experience, to soak in the presence of the Holy Spirit, to feel the anointing, to witness the miraculous. But the Bible only speaks of two types of people, the wise and the foolish. The wise gains wisdom and knowledge, with experience. The foolish just experiences the moment.

Questions for discussion

1. Reflecting on your most recent church attendance did you act like a wise or foolish person?

2. What was the most important thing you learnt from this blog?

3. What was the most important question left unanswered by this blog?

4. What did you least understand in this blog?

Rod St Hill