If we’re all completely honest, I’m sure we’d admit that there’s been a time or two we’ve sat in our church pews on Sunday afternoon thinking, “This AGAIN?! I’ve literally heard this message a thousand times before! It’s alright if I don’t pay attention to what this guy is saying… I basically know all there is to know about this topic anyways.”
As an Education major, my professors have taught me quite a bit about the process of learning, including the different strategies used to make material understandable. One of the most important teaching strategies we’ve been taught is repetition. Have you ever wondered why it was that you spent 2 hours a day in class learning about a subject and yet, you were still assigned homework on the same subject to complete outside of class? It’s because your teachers knew what they were doing! They were using repetition strategies for you to completely comprehend that particular subject. Not only did they want you to master it in the classroom, but they also wanted you to feel confident enough to try it out at home on your own.
Now, most of us would agree, that repetition in the school system is a necessary and helpful way to go about things. But most of us would also agree that it’s much harder to have such a positive attitude when it comes to seemingly repetitive sermons spoken at church.
In fact, harboring the “I’ve-heard-this-before” attitude does more damage than we realize when it goes untreated and undisciplined. Below, I’ve listed several negative consequences that can result from this terrible attitude, and below each of those consequences, I’ve listed a better way to train your thoughts, so that we can get rid of the negative attitudes at church and replace them with positive ones!
Consequence: It makes us prideful, in that we feel like we couldn’t stand any room for improvement or correction.
Instead: Pray and ask God to show you how you can take what’s being said and apply it in a way that you haven’t attempted before.
Consequence: It breeds negative feelings towards the speaker of the sermon.
Instead: Pray for the speaker! Ask that God will use their words to encourage and edify those who are listening.
Consequence: It causes selfishness to creep up because we’re only thinking about ourselves and whether we will be benefitted by the message.
Instead: Pray for your church members to be open-minded while listening, so that maybe they can be refreshed and encouraged by what the speaker is telling them!
Consequence: It can even cause us to discourage those around us, by making them less apt to listen to a message that could very well have benefitted them quite a bit!
Instead: Pray for your brothers and sisters who are listening, and that they will apply what they’ve learned in order to continue following Christ in a way that’s pleasing!
Surely we haven’t forgotten the fact that every message from God carries meaning and weight far beyond what you or I could ever imagine. Simply because a sermon may not completely apply to you doesn’t mean that it can’t change the life of one of your church members a couple of seats over!
When we truly train our minds to understand that we are ONE BODY of believers, our thoughts and actions will reflect that. The next time you catch yourself beginning to question why it is that a message is being spoken, stop that negative thinking in its’ tracks and pray for whoever may need to hear that message instead. You have no idea whose lives may be significantly impacted by the time it’s finished! 🙂
God’s word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. | Hebrews 4:12