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Gathering One2One For Sermon Application - Be An Expositional Listener!

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Be An Expositional Listener!

What kind of preaching builds churches and equips Christians for ministry? The Bible tells us, in Acts chapter 17. In both Thessalonica and Berea, the Apostle Paul opens the text (verse 2, “from the Scriptures”), he explains its meaning (verse 3, “explaining”), he lays out a case for his hearers to examine (verse 3, “proving,” better translated “setting before”), and he preaches persistently (verse 2, “for three Sabbath days”) looking for application (“persuaded,” verse 4). This is calledexpository preaching.

How should Christians listen to such preaching? Luke shows us that, too—by way of a contrast. The Thessalonians listened poorly, as they were close-minded, suspicious, and jealous (verses 5-9). The Bereans, however, listened well because they were noble (verse 11)—meaning generous, humble, and open-minded. They listened “with all eagerness” (verse 11). The Bereans knew the ministry of the Word doesn't end when the preacher stops talking! They did what every Christian should do: they "took the sermon home," eagerly seeking to confirm the truth of the sermon by “examining the Scriptures” (verse 11).  This is "expositional listening": intently hearing to properly grasp the argument being made, and then searching the Bible to understand, confirm, and apply what's being taught. When you gather with another church member for sermon application, you’re being an expositional listener.

 How Do I Gather For Sermon Application?

What does it mean to gather one-to-one for sermon application? Simple—listen to the preaching at your church, and then meet with another member and talk about it! Here’s what to listen for and how to do it.

 Part 1: Listening To The Sermon

 Here’s what to do at the Sunday service before you meet:

  1. Pray.Ask God to make you humble and eager for the Word, and to help you understand and apply the sermon.
  1. Write down the sermon text.Get the book, chapter, and verses. And read it before the sermon if you can!
  1. Write down the sermon outline.Listen for it--or copy it from the bulletin!
  1. Write down the sermon’s main point.Try to summarize the preacher’s overall message in a sentence.
  1. Write down the preacher’s applications.

Part 2: Gathering For Sermon Application

Here’s an outline for your meeting for sermon application:

  1. Open in prayer.One person thanks God and asks for help understanding and applying the passage.
  1. Follow-up from previous session.Ask each other how each of you are doing applying the last sermon’s lessons.
  1. Read the sermon text aloud.Either take turns meeting-by-meeting, or break up the passage so each person reads. 
  1. Review the sermon.Take turns asking questions like: what was the overall message? What were the preacher’s points? What “hit you hard”?
  1. Review the sermon’s applications.Take turns talking about the preacher’s applications. What should each of you know, believe, or do in response? 
  1. Other applications.Take turns asking if, in either the sermon or text, there’s anything else you should: know? understand? hope in? trust? confess? repent of? change? do?
  1. Schedule the next meeting.Date, time, and place!
  1. Close in prayer.The person who didn’t pray to start thanks God and asks for help applying the passage.

Going Deeper with Sermon Listening

Sermon listening is a central part of the Christian life, and so why not learn more about it? Christopher Ash has written a very short but very useful booklet called Listen Up! A practical guide to listening to sermons, filled with useful tips and challenging questions that will help you “take care…how you hear” (Luke 8:18). After getting started with Gathering One2One,we strongly urge you to find and use this book.

Why Not Start This Week?

Simply download a Gathering One2One Study Outline for Sermon Application below, print it out, ask someone to join you, pick a passage, and start reading together! Links:

Gathering One2One Study Outline for Sermon Application, folded brochureformat

(Two pages, formatted for 8.5 x 11 paper, printed double-sided in landscape orientation and flipped on short edge, and folded in half)

Gathering One2One Study Outline for Sermon Application, portrait format

(Two pages, formatted for 8.5 x 11 paper, printed double-sided in portrait orientation and flipped on long edge. Can be three-hole-punched)

Gathering One2One Study Outline for Sermon Application, electronicbrochure format

(PDF file, formatted especially for viewing on tablets and smartphones)