Guide teaches people to listen better to sermons

17 November 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE College of Preachers is to publish tomorrow a guide that intends to help members of con­gregations to develop “better sermon listening”.

The booklet, How to Listen to Sermons, which was compiled by the Revd Paul Burden, the Rector of Bathampton, near Bath, says that preaching is “an event in which the listeners play a full part”. The pur­pose of the guide “is to help you consider carefully how you listen, as you allow God to speak to you through sermons”.

It poses a number of questions for those in the pews to ask themselves, including: “Are there habitual dis­trac­tions to listening that I could do something about?”; “Recognising my likes and dislikes, how can I make myself listen better to sermons that are outside my preferences?”; and: “At the end of this sermon, was I wanting to praise, pray, confess, commit, be still, or discuss with others?”

The Director of the College of Preachers, Paul Johns, said: “Let’s get away from polite post-sermon platitudes for preachers: ‘I enjoyed your sermon. . . I liked your story about. . .’ Let’s get into the habit of really listening to sermons and talking about them seriously.

“We shouldn’t think of the sermon as something imposed on a passive congregation, but as something good that happens when the preacher speaks well and the rest of us listen well.”

The guide will be launched to­morrow at the College of Preachers’ Festival of Preaching at Chelmsford Cathedral, at which the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, will preach, “and an ex­pected congregation of 200 people will listen attentively,” a statement from the College of Preachers said.

How to Listen to Sermons can be purchased for £10 for ten copies from:


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