Suggestions for a Dull SermonI came across a book that gives 101 things to Do During a Dull Sermon. While it may seem a bit flippant, it makes you think. A preacher can notice quite a few things going on, and can himself become distracted when he knows people aren't paying attention. I sometimes comment that I can recognize some by the shape of their nostrils (think about it). That said, here are a few of the "suggestions":
- Make an "Ananias and Sapphira List." With due consideration for the net worth of each member and their motives for giving, list the names of the "Ten Most Likely To Be Struck Dead During the Offering."
- Word Power: It pays to increase your word power. Whenever you hear a word you are unfamiliar with during the sermon, write it down and guess at a definition (that's how some theologians arrive at their definitions.) Check your guesses with a dictionary, Bible Dictionary, theological encyclopedia or ask your neighbor.
- Hymn Memorization: Take advantage of this lull in your interest to learn those troublesome second and third verses of hymns — you know, the words you mumble while trying to keep up with the tempo. A Bible dictionary may help you make some sense of the lyrics.
- Pew Warming: By experimentation, try to determine how many comfortable pew sitting positions you can discover. You will kill a lot of time before you realize there are NO comfortable pew sitting positions.
- Play-by-Play: If you are seated near the rear of the auditorium, away from people, quietly "broadcast" the sermon (or the entire service) using the jargon of a sports announcer.
- Yawn: see if a yawn really is contagious.
- Back Row: Join the young people on the back pew. Ask to borrow one of their Walkmans.
- Find the oldest church bulletin and Bible study ditto sheet in your Bible. This will tell you how long it's been since you last really read your Bible.
- Ballgame Worry: If your favorite team is playing, worry about how much of the game you're missing.
- List ways to embarrass visitors. It will be difficult to think of things that churches haven't already done, but try. (Here are some suggestions to get the creative juices going: Have the visitor list all the books of the Bible by memory; Ask the visitor why he/she hasn't been coming to church.)
I chuckle at some of these, if nothing else because they are too close to what really happens; but then a more serious thought crosses my mind. Have we grown so tired of gospel preaching that we cannot concentrate for a few moments to meditate and think seriously about God's word? While preachers should try to make their lessons interesting, it is not up to the preacher to keep us entertained and "awake." When we take delight in something, we find ways to keep our own interest level up. But here is a serious suggestion: if you really are having trouble following a preacher, then you can, at least, read your Bible and get something out of it. If you can't do that, there are more serious problems at the heart of the matter.