You’ve been here before, heard a sermon that was absolutely life changing! Compelling! Convicting! Impacting! Unforgettable even!
Two days later you mention this sermon to a friend excited about all that it did for you.
You friend asks “Cool, what was it about? What did you learn?”
You “uhh… ummm… God is good? Lol I can’t really remember the details but I promise you it was SO GOOD! You need to listen to it!”
You’re probably laughing right now because you’ve had this conversation at least once.
You’ve forgotten most of what was said and only remember how great it felt and what an AHA! moment it was when you first heard it.
You’ve already lost the seed that was planted into your heart. (Matthew 13:19-23)
Now, it’s not entirely your fault,
Your mind is bombarded with SO much information on a daily basis, it’s impossible to hold on to the things that matter the most unless you are purposeful about doing so.
Like it or not, we have become accustomed to listening for entertainment. We want to be moved and yes sometimes, your spirit man is affected, but there is also a listening to be CHANGED. This is what you want to fight for.
Get my free Practical Sermon Note Taking Guide that’ll help you put this post into action the information you are hearing- especially when you want to make it “flesh” in you. (See John 1:14).
So here is how to up the ante and get the most from any life-changing sermon you hear!
Repetition Repetition Repetition.
“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” Norman Vincent Peale
If this is a sermon teaching you a specific way of thinking that you want to become an automatic reflex, for example – you knew you have long needed to step out in faith in something God is calling you to do. You have been charged by this sermon to take hold of that faith and begin to run.
Then you need to listen to the sermon many times over in order to get your mind to really begin to believe what you have heard. Your mind has acknowledged that this is good information, but it hasn’t yet created the fruit. The material.
You haven’t yet STARTED, and stayed there until your task was complete. So here’s how you make sure you have heard that word or sermon enough.
If you heard the sermon at a live event, get the MP3.
Trust me, that pastor isn’t going to get wealthy off your $2 purchase of what he just taught. So many people act like spending money on resources that can change your own life is a conspiracy cooked up by the speaker. It’s not. Getting the mp3 will help you to grow and apply that word much more than just hearing it once.
If you cannot afford the cost of the recording, many teachers and sound departments are willing to allow you to have it for free or with whatever you can give. Just get over yourself and ask.
OR you can simply begin recording with your phone if you can sense they are going somewhere you need to really take in. If you want to change, you have to get desperate enough to have truth getting in your system.
It’s not every single sermon you need to get the audio version of and re-listen to, but I’m talking about moments where you know what you’re hearing can impact your life greatly if applied. Those are the words you need to replay!
Put it in your car, or your phone. Listen to it while on the bus. While washing dishes, going for a walk, listen to it with a friend. Just continue to listen to it until you really -get it. Until it bears fruit in you.
Tip – You can do this with the Bible itself. In fact, you should be. You’ll be surprised how much your way of thinking will change!
For more on the principles of remembering, check out this article by Psychotactics.
Talk About It!
When you’re trying to actually benefit from the massive amount of sermons you hear, the solution is often right before you! Begin to share what you are learning. Be purposeful about talking about the sermon (or whatever God spoke to you through) right after the event, on your way home, the next day.
The art of teaching or sharing information actually solidifies the information in yourself. It capitalizes on the power of repetition, and actually takes it up a notch because it forces your brain to reprocess the teaching in a way that your friend can receive it. So when you do this, it isn’t coming at your brain once, but you get to reconstruct that teaching and apply it to your friend’s situation, which increases your understanding of it.
In other words, you “sow to grow!” Feel free to Pin the image below as a daily reminder!
This applies to all principles God teaches you.
Keep in mind, if it was a really strong, encouraging teaching, it will probably help someone else as well. So go and share. Try to highlight at least two statements that stood out to you from the sermon. When you commit to doing this you will actually pay closer attention while listening, because you know you want to share a part of it and you get the added benefit of enriching someone else’s life!
What if there’s no one to share it with?
Then post it on one of the social media platforms you’re on. Someone may see it and be encouraged by it. This would still force you to rephrase what you heard and apply it to your friends online so it still has the benefits of sharing. However, even if you’re surrounded by tons of people who don’t know Jesus, you can share with them what points in the teaching impacted you and why. You’d be surprised how your testimony moves them, even if they don’t understand the full picture yet.
It’s ok if you don’t say everything exactly as it was said before, it’s also fine if you make some mistakes, it’s part of the learning process and still helps your brain!
This one goes without saying. If you are serious about maximizing your church/conference/youtube sermon experience, you need to be taking notes. To simply sit and listen is to be entertained. You cannot afford to be in that category of people any longer. If you take notes in school, you should be taking notes in church. If you take notes at work, how much less the place where you are being equipped not simply to file papers or do tasks but to change the world for the glory of God.
Some people feel their pastor’s sermons are not “worth” note-taking. He only tells stories, or —–. Guess what? If you go in with that expectation, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Listen with ears to hear.“The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.” Dr Amos DadaClick To Tweet
You aren’t just taking notes of what the teacher/preacher/pastor is saying. You are also taking note of what God is saying to you during that time. Write down any other ideas, points of connection He is making to you. Highlight specific phrases that you want to chew on later.
Pen and Paper!
Whenever I tell my ladies to use pen and paper in taking notes, I sometimes catch flak for it. We’re so used to our memo pad, ipads, and eletronic note taking devices that it has become a huge inconveniece to carry a pen and notebook around.
However, “brain scans have shown that when learning, handwriting activates more areas of the brain than typing.” (Longcamp et al. 2008)
Also handwriting may play a role in better synthesis and retention of complex ideas. In three studies, Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) found that typed note taking of lectures resulted in “shallower processing” than by longhand note taking of lectures (p. 1159).
Something happens when your hand holds the pencil or pen, touches paper and you have to reconstruct what you are hearing in order to put it down on the paper. It actually helps you retain the information better.
When taking notes, put down the date and location of what you heard. It helps you to track your growth timeline and put an exact face to the lesson. Years later, you may read those notes, see how much it has impacted you since and be able to actually imagine yourself right where you were when you took those notes down.
Ask God, ask the teacher. Wrestle with any part of it that doesn’t make sense to you. If it makes sense and you’ve been practicing it, but don’t see the fruit, ask God what is missing.
Questions help you to clarify the meaning of terms, words or ideologies that aren’t clear to your brain. They strengthen relationships between different teachings and help you build on what you have learned previously. They establish continuity and help you build your memory on the subject.
Some questions you can ask yourself or the speaker is –
- What does this mean?
- If I apply what is being taught, how will my life be affected by it?
- Has God been highlighting this to me previously?
- How does it fit in?
- What does this change about the way I think?
For other non-negotiable questions you need to be asking yourself, download our Practical Sermon Note Taking Guide here.
5. Avoid Distraction
Concentration greatly multiplies the impact of what you’re hearing. Allowing yourself to actively listen as opposed to a shallow “hearing” of what is being said.
Writing with a pen and paper helps curb digital temptations as you can put your phone aside for that time and focus. If you want to take sermons seriously, you also have to steer clear of the chatty sections in every church more concerned with side jokes, weekly updates, and fashion comparison.
Discussion on what is being taught and response to the speaker is fine. But you don’t want to be getting caught up in conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with what is taking place – at that time! Remind them that you can speak to them right after the sermon. Self control.
Arrive on time! (If it’s a physical meeting)
Arrive on time.
Don’t be that girl, sauntering in at the end of the service like – Jesus, I’ve come to meet with you. Sermon finished, altar call done.
So the next time you hear a sermon that is absolutely rocking you to the core, make sure it goes beyond emotional highs and bears fruit in your life by applying these tips. Get the mp3 or record it on your phone and re-listen to it throughout your week, talk to your friends or spouse about it, write a blog or small encouraging status update. Take great notes. Remember, even the simplest concepts aren’t just learned. They need to be discussed, talked, and written about!
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word”
Download the Sermon Note Taking Guide for a step by step fillable guide helping you to maximize and apply the next life-changing sermon you hear, to your life!
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What other tips do you use to remember and apply a really good sermon?