What was the content of the last sermon you heard? The key points? The main message? What exactly did you take away from it?
Sometimes it’s easy to question the effectiveness of a church sermon when we’re struggling to remember what it was even about. Sure, some bible talks are more coherent, well-structured and ‘powerful’ than others… But even the best ones seem to fly out our heads as we exit the building.
Our former pastor Tim MacBride writes about this in a blog post called Why bother with preaching?. He argues that, even though the recall of sermons might not be strong for many of us, one of the main roles of regular, biblical preaching is to build a relationship with God. “An ‘attachment’ to him, if you want to speak in psychological terms,” writes Tim, who goes on to describe how sermons connect us with God and his story…
“Each week we come to church to hear (hopefully) God’s story,” he says. “We’re reminded of who he is. Of what he’s done for us in Christ. And how this means that our story can now find its place within his big story. It anchors our existence and gives our life meaning within a much bigger framework. Over time we might forget the content of each message. Our attitudes and behaviour might be transformed only incrementally. But each week, we build the connection as we hang out with God and his story. Even though we might not be fully conscious of what’s going on, we’re enjoying the feeling of sitting on our heavenly Father’s knee and having the same story read to us over and over again. And it’s that feeling of connection that builds the bonds of trust and affection and love. Does it mean that duty, character, goals, and worldview aren’t important? Not at all! But when we trust and love God, we’re more likely to want to do what pleases him, to be more like him, to pursue his purposes in our lives, and to see the world around us through our Father’s eyes.”
I really like this explanation of what ‘sitting in church’ means. Sure, we can attend church, or hear a sermon, and not be ‘fully there’. But every week that we hear a part of God’s story our goals, attitudes, and lives change just a little. As Tim says, we’re ‘sitting on our heavenly Father’s knee’ and hearing the stories that make us want to please him more. We’re building a stronger connection with him and we’re growing in our faith.
The stories we were told as children might completely oppose what we hear in church. The stories we’ve played over and over in our heads are most likely at odds with the story God tells about us. His love story of redemption is different to any romance we might have experienced. The connection we make with Jesus is stronger than any other, and his stories are meant to impact us.
Don’t give up on church, even if you can’t remember last week’s sermon. Don’t give up on God’s people – even though they might disappoint you. Allow your struggles to build your faith in God – the one who’ll never let us down. Ask him to show you how to keep loving others and listening to the words he has for you.
Yes, we’re so prone to forget everything – Jesus knew what he was doing when he instituted communion! 🙂
Haha so true! Reminders are everything aren’t they!
I never saw church that way before and thinking on it more I see how true it is!!! It’s hard to recall a lot of messages but my relationship with God has got deeper because of the messages I heard. I have been challenged and been made aware of flaws I have at church!! Thanks for sharing that Ali….!
Thanks Rolain. It’s great to look back on how God has challenged us and built that firm foundation and connection through our time under his word, and in fellowship with other people too.
Great post! I actually do remember the sermon from Sunday – it was the conclusion of a series, “Walking Worthy” and how our words can either honor or dishonor God. I hadn’t thought about it, but it makes sense that the weekly presence of God’s message delivered in church does make the connection stronger. I know it gives me plenty to work on during the week…
Thanks Janna! That’s great you have that recall. I find it depends on the week as to how much I remember and what I do with the message. So thankful God uses sermons to build a connection with him regardless of our forgetfulness.
Ali your post reminds me of a story I read a long time ago about someone arguing that they never remember the sermon so why should they go to church. The other person said, do you remember every meal you’ve eaten in the last year? He said no. The other person said, but you received sustenance and keep coming back.
That sums it up SO perfectly Denise! I love that analogy. So grateful for the many ‘meals’ we can receive at church. We truly are blessed 🙂
I just wish I could remember where I read these nuggets! I’d love to give someone credit, but it’s all I can do to remember the nugget! 😉
We had a great sermon from a man in his eighties. It was All Saints Day and he spoke about what it meant to be part of “the Church” as we are joined with all the other believers (saints) down through the ages.
He also spoke of the suffering we may endure as Britain becomes more hostile to Christianity, to the point of recalling a dream he had where he and his wife were about to be beheaded by ISIS.
Scriptures included Revelation 7.
You post holds a great message for all of us… the need to not only hear a message but then meditate upon it throughout the rest of the day and week. By doing this it helps many of us to retain more of the message and allow it to become a part of our day to day life. Lord bless you!
Thank you Rob. It’s so important to reflect on the words God has for us each week isn’t it? Often we just rush through life, and fail to pause and ponder His truth.
I have a 10 month old who loves to hear the same stories over and over again. So I could really relate to that analogy in your blog. What a beautiful picture of sitting at my Father’s feet and hearing my favorite story–the gospel–every Sunday.
Beautiful. May we each continue craving the stories from our Father God, who never tires of telling them through His people. God bless you and your beautiful family!
Your posts are so thought provoking and motivating – more deserve to read your work and inspiring posts. I hope you’ll accept the nomination of a Lovely Blogger Award which I’m presenting to you along with some others today or tomorrow. Blessings,
How wonderful, thank you so much Ellie!
Hello fellow awardee! I found you through Ellie of http://newcreationsministries.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/thank-you-for-one-lovely-blog-award/
This is a very powerful post and hit me dead center! Never really thought of church this way and I’m a worship leader! This totally reframes how I will lead worship int he future! Thank you for writing this!!
Congratulations on your award & I look forward to following your blog!
Blessings of ARTistry, CREATivity & BEaUty, Jody
I’m so glad Jody! Thank you so much!
Awesome post Alison. It’s funny that you wrote about this topic because I just ran into someone I use to attend church with and they were sharing how they no longer attend or need to attend church anywhere. Thanks so much for sharing.
That was good timing Latrice – I pray they can be blessed by church again one day. Thanks for your encouragement!
Hi, I just tagged you to a blog challenge, 20 Things You Might Know About Me Blog Tag . I thought I would try it and pass the tag on to several bloggers. Blog challenges can be a fun way to get to know each other. I enjoyed getting to know some things about the person who tagged me.
I hope you enjoy it. Please visit
to find out more. Many blessings to you! Elizabeth
Thank you Elizabeth!
You are sure welcome! Wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.
By the way, the name of the challenge is supposed to say, 20 Things You Might NOT Know About Me Blog Tag, I forgot the NOT, LOL. 🙂