Sunday, May 5, 2013

So... What did you think of the service?

"I thought it was good."

Long pause.

"Yep. Me too."

More often than not, this is usually how our conversation goes on the way home from church. Sometime we'll talk about some of the main points, but rarely do we get past the listening comprehension phase of talking about a sermon.

Of course there are those days when the pastor brought a really strong word, or maybe the topic had our attention. After those messages, we have little trouble moving past the facts of the message and taking it to another level as we talk about our feelings, how we felt when he talked about x. But is this how we should be responding each week? Should our response and motivation to reflect on what we heard be conditional to how well we "liked" the message?

Let me offer to you that the answer to those questions is no. Yes, some days we are more in tune with the Spirit, and have no trouble feasting on the message for the rest of the week. But more often than not, this will not be the case. Most of the time, we have to do some work.

We have to move past the reciting of facts that are delivered to us. We need to let the facts sink into our hearts and minds so that our feelings about reflecting on those facts begins to surface.

As we process our feelings, we return to the scriptures and make sure we are correctly understanding what we heard. Then we form conclusions, identifying where our understanding needs correction. Those conclusions should then be shared with other believers to help us make sure we are not making mistakes in our thinking. We also invite others to learn how to encourage us and celebrate how God is at work in our hearts. And finally, we move to identifying what our next steps are for us to apply the preaching of God's word to our lives.

Yes, this is hard. Yes, this requires some effort and work. But the fruit of asking some hard questions of our hearts in light of hearing the preaching of God's word will become evident. We will no longer be mere hearers of the word, but doers.

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." (James 1:22-25 ESV)

Facts: What was discussed?

Feelings: How did I feel about those facts?

Conclusions: What did I learn about God? and myself?

Community: Are my conclusions correct? What do I need to hear from other believers about this?

Next steps: What will I do about it today? This week?

Make it a point today to work through these questions and consider what you heard from the preaching of God's word. Let's move past, "what did you think?" to "what are you going to do about it?"

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