Listening to Sermons: Autobiographical Thanks

I’ve been listening to sermons my entire life. At least from the time I was allowed to go into big people church as a youngster in the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church. I still remember being slightly terrified as my hollering preacher would run up and down the aisles. I honestly can’t tell you any of the sermons I heard when I was a kid. I remember memorizing my first verse of scripture in the PFWB. I know the things I was taught in Sunday School stuck with me somewhere along the way. I know now more than ever how I really am a Son of Abraham and so are you (if you have trusted in Jesus), so lets just praise the Lord!

The Lord saved me in the PFWB church and when I was in 5th grade my family decided to leave that church for the one my mother grew up in. A Southern Baptist Church moving from a more traditional style of service to one much more contemporary. I heard a different style of preaching at this church. The pastor was indeed passionate, but he didn’t run up and down the isles or yell till he was red faced. I have learned a lot from Pastor Kelly or PK as we began calling him in youth group. He is the one who first got me to take notes during sermons. The bulletins always contained an insert with fill in the blanks. It is a good way of helping the congregation to follow along. Kelly’s style of preaching is different than mine and the majority of what I listen to. But, Kelly has taught me a lot about the Bible over the years. I have no doubt that a large part of that has to due with his teaching me to take notes. I still to this day can remember the sermons he preached following 9/11 and what God has to say about war. Those were ten years ago. Some of the most edifying sermons he preached were on the life of David. His passion for apologetics (especially those for the resurrection) in the pulpit prepared me much for the numerous encounters I had in high school to share the gospel. I’m ever so thankful for Kelly’s preaching and prompting me to take notes.

While I was getting Kelly’s more topical style of preaching on Sunday mornings. Around 2004/2005 Derik Davis became our Youth Pastor at Southside. He introduced me to a more expositional style of preaching. He also gave us paper/bulletins to fill out on Wednesday nights as we all sat around listening to him teach through 1 John, Colossians, and Philippians. I have no doubt that these times on Wednesday night were some of the most influential times in my life. They taught me tremendously how to study the bible and again how to take notes. Derik also introduced me to a lot of expositional preachers I’d never heard of. Which created a chain reaction of beginning to listen to other expositors. I first had exposure to men like Paige Patterson, Danny Akin, John MacArthur and Don Carson as a result of learning from Derik.  I ate up this kind of preaching and began to listen to other men. It was in youth group I began listening to and reading John Piper, John MacArthur, and Mark Driscoll.

There are dozens of other sermons that I’ve listened to from youth speakers, evangelists, and other pastors. I started taking notes from these folks when I was in middle school. Several pastors here locally like Aaron King and Ken Gourlay made a last impression upon me and my understanding of the Scriptures. I shan’t dare dismiss the work of the Holy Spirit in my education in the School of Christ, but I do know that the impression pens and pencils made upon paper have created a lasting effect upon me.

The Christian faith is a faith of learning. It is one of learning the truth of God as he has been revealed in his Word. Faithful preaching is one of God’s ordained means of revealing himself to us. I think it is of great profit and wise stewardship to take notes while listening to sermons. If God truly speaks through his servants as they proclaim his word, it would only be wise to try to listen as attentively as possible and record the things they say. I hope this post and the ones to come will be of great benefit as I spend time in reflection and share my own growth in listening to sermons and learning to become a better note taker. May the Lord bless his people through the preaching of his word, and may he be glorified above any and all of his prophets.


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