Monday, April 21, 2008

Help Being a Good Hearer of the Word

Solid Ground Christian Books has recently re-published Jay Adam's Be Careful How You Listen: How to Get the Most out of a Sermon. Here is a word about it from the author:
Preaching will never be out of date. And there are seminary courses without number to prove the point. But where can one find a course about listening for laymen? If it exists, I am unaware of it! Good listening is at least half of the equation when communicating God’s truth. Yet, no one seems to care about it. Originally, by publishing this book, I had hoped to do something to remedy this deplorable situation. But—alas—when it was published, the publisher went out of business and it was never advertised. Thus, through it, I never had the opportunity to offer the help that I had hoped it would provide. Now, at the request of Solid Ground Christian Books for a book that had gone out of print — and shouldn’t have — I am delighted once again to offer it anew to listening congregations.

While simple to understand, this is a serious book. It deals with one of the major problems of the modern church—and there are plenty of them! Yet, to my mind, few more neglected. Preaching lacks much today. It has succumbed to various nefarious influences. Even in Reformed circles there is need for rethinking the practices that, like barnacles, have attached themselves to it. These practices need to be addressed. But there is help for the preacher. Many, recognizing the problem that such accretions cause have been writing about them. But, while cracking these off helps greatly, it does not solve one of the major the problems with preaching. As most Christians know, much preaching produces little fruit. Thoughtful believers wonder why, week after week, even when the Word is faithfully proclaimed, so little change takes place in the lives of listeners. Many preachers are discouraged by this fact, and
congregations themselves often drift into a state of malaise.

It is not always the fault of the preacher that this is so. The second element in the
preaching context is the congregation. Even good preaching falling on untilled ground that is full of weeds will be choked out. Our Lord was quite clear about that. It is because of the condition of the ground itself that much —perhaps, most—preaching fails. It is time that something is done about this. In this book, the thoughtful Christian who wants to learn how to get the most out of preaching will find specific, concrete help. In one sense, the book is a call for change in the listening habits of God’s children. In another, it is a handbook for how to change for the better. I hope that the right blend of exhortation and direction may be found in it for most Christians. It is my experience, that, while examining my own patterns of listening to the preaching of God’s Word in the light of Scriptural injunctions, I have improved
significantly, and I am convinced that any willing child of God can learn to listen better if he so desires. But that is the difficulty: so little has been said or written about the obligation to listen well, that the subject is virtually unknown and untouched. It is my earnest hope that this book will at least go some way toward making a difference. In the Scriptures, there is more instruction about listening than about preaching! Leave it to us sinners to reverse things, putting all of the stress on the latter at the expense of the former!

Now, ask yourself, "If I were asked to set forth principles of good listening and how to develop them, what would I say?" Perplexed? Rightly so. But, after reading this book, I trust you will be able to do so. And not only to articulate them, but be able to put them into practice. It is my hope that there will be boards of elders that distribute the book to the members of their flocks. I can think of few more profitable ways to expend the Lord’s funds than to do so or, at least, to make such books available in church bookstores or libraries. I can almost certainly assure you that you will readily find an empty space on the shelf for it.

So, I am pleased to be able to make this book available again (largely, for the first time), and I send it forth asking God to bless its use in the lives of many.

Jay E. Adams March 30, 2007

In the same vein, James Renihan posted a helpful entry today called How to Profit from Preaching over at the Reformed Baptist Fellowship Blog.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Keith.

    I am commenting as I could not see an email address.

    I am Russ Murray, and I found your blog via BlogRush. I am a Presbyterian theologian with Baptist beliefs (discussed in recent blog article). I have two theology related blogs and am also looking for links. If linking with me interests please let me know. I am looking for Baptist links.

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