Recently I discovered that the famous baseball player turned preacher, Billy Sunday, came to my hometown in Ohio in 1911. They planned for the meeting to last 1 week, but it was extended for 6 weeks due to the overwhelming response to the preaching of the Bible.
When Billy heard the Gospel in Chicago at the Pacific Garden mission, he turned from sin and trusted Jesus and His resurrection for his salvation. After playing professional baseball several more seasons, Billy quit baseball and became an itenerate Gospel preacher traveling and holding meetings all around America. During his ministry, hundreds of thousands came to faith in Christ.
Gathering with the church on a regular basis is something the Every Day Carry Christian practices, to offer public worship to the Lord, to study and learn the Scriptures, and to encourage other brothers and sisters in Christ. The church meets weekly on Sunday mornings in most cases. Occasionally there are special meetings in which a guest preacher comes to town to preach and teach the Scriptures. Be encouraged to shuffle your schedule to be able to attend special meetings like this. Whether a regular Sunday with your pastor or a special meeting with a guest preacher, the EDC Christian must learn and develop his/her skills to listen to Bible preaching.
Moses taught God’s people the “Shema.” Shema means “to hear with anticipation to respond.” It is intently listening and personally making an application to every day life of what is heard in the lesson. This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and one in which we have modeled much of our church life after.
Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.Deuteronomy 6:3-5
Here are some Thriving Skills for the Soul to help you when listening to Bible preaching when you gather with your church:
- Pray for the service ahead of time. Ask the Lord to bless the church service, to reveal Himself in the Scriptures, and to be glorified with the gathering. Make the prayer personable and applicable to you too. “Speak to me, Lord.”
- Bring your Bible. Bring your favorite Bible. I prefer using a physical copy of the Bible, but I have used my phone or iPad on occasion.
- Take notes. Some people remember better when they take notes. Others enjoy looking back over the notes of messages of years past to recall moments of decision and devotion. Use paper notebooks, digital devices, or whatever works for you. I like the original yellow “Stick It” sticky notes” inside the cover of my Bible.
- Participate in the service. Sing when people are singing. Pray when people are praying. Listen with the intent of responding when someone is preaching.
- Be willing to respond. An invitation, a response time, or prayer time may be offered at the end of the service. Pray about a decision. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust and respond to the clearly revealed will of God in the Bible.
Billy Sunday was known for his dynamic, boisterous, loud, and sometimes rough preaching. He held the attention of his audience and was possibly “entertaining” to listen to and watch when he was preaching. Even if your pastor or guest preacher is not “entertaining” that’s OK. Entertainment is not the goal – knowing God is. Becoming more like Jesus is part of why you are at the gathering of the church in the first place. Even though preaching and teaching styles may vary, the goal of listening to preaching and teaching is the same.
Develop and use the Thriving Skills above to be ready to hear preaching this Sunday.