The Last Sermon You Heard

PreachThink back to the last sermon you heard. Do you remember it? What was the passage? What was the topic? What was the main idea? What were the supporting points?

Odds are you don’t remember many of these things. You might remember a funny story or two. Maybe you remember the topic or the passage. But let’s be honest. With everything going on in your life, it’s hard to remember what the preacher talked about last week, much less what he talked about last month or last year. I’ve listened to thousands of sermons in my life. Today, I remember bits and pieces from a dozen or so.

Does that mean preaching is a waste? If no one remembers the vast majority of what you say, what’s the point in saying anything at all?

I would suggest that listening to good preaching week in and week out is a valuable practice, even if you can’t regurgitate the entire message a week or a month or a year later. Here are two reasons you need to regularly sit under faithful expository preaching:

  1. Listening to the Word of God proclaimed is a vital part of renewing your mind. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” During the week, we face the temptation to be conformed to the world. Yes, your “quiet time” can help you in this battle. But you need to hear the Word proclaimed, explained, and applied on a regular basis. Even if you can’t repeat all three sermon points at Sunday lunch, you’re working toward transformation through the renewal of your mind. And over time, sermons pile up.  You may not remember specific points or statements. But you will begin to think Biblically, and your world view will align more and more with Scripture.
  2. Listening to the Word of God proclaimed is part of learning how to study the Bible. I’m assuming your pastor stands up and tries to exposit, or exegete the text. I assume your preacher is not just preaching topical fluff about how to have a better life. I assume your pastor does not spend most of his time telling inspirational stories. I assume your pastor is actually diving into the text of the Bible. When you sit under this kind of preaching month after month, year after year, you learn how to study the Bible on your own. You begin to consider context. You see themes and ideas connected throughout the Scriptures. And you develop the ability to grow in Godliness by studying the Bible on your own.

This Sunday, pay attention. We know God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). We know it is profitable for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16). So if your pastor talks about the Bible this week, he’s talking about something you need to hear. Pay attention. But if you forget his third point by the time lunch is over, don’t worry. Keep listening to renew your mind, and keep listening to learn how to study on your own.

Originally published December 1, 2015 on