GETTING THE MOST OUT OF GOD'S MESSAGE
By Patricia Wood Muncy, Pennsylvania
It has been said that ninety percent of all that is heard during the Sunday morning message is forgotten by the time the people reach the door.
The first time I heard this statement I thought what a waste! Why do churches spend thousands of dollars each year to keep a church open, pay a pastor, etc. to have forgotten most of the message before leaving the building? Why do men and women give of their lives, spending hours each week preparing a message from God that people won't even remember? If the above statement is true, then we should take some steps to lessen that percentage.
I also have heard it said that we get out of anything what we put into it and what we want to get out of it. It is really up to the individual what they take home with them and what makes a difference in their lives.
A few years after my husband went into the ministry, I realized that I was thinking of him as the pastor of those people as I listened to him one Sunday morning. I had neglected to realize that I needed a pastor too. Who is the pastor for the minister's wife? Her husband, of course, but, I was not acting as if he were the pastor. I asked God to help me realize that He was sending me messages through His servant (my husband) as well as the other people in our church. I had been thinking of him only as my husband—-not God's man to deliver God's message.
It was during this time that God gave me some ideas to take home the message He wanted for me. They were:
1. Pray for the speaker. Satan will do everything in his
power to disrupt the message, to discourage the speaker, to
cause it to be in vain. God's power is needed to get the
Word across. Ask the Holy Spirit to be present, to speak
through the speakers, to lead their thoughts, to give them
an authority of God.
2. Pray for yourself. Ask God to speak to your life and
show you what He wants through His messenger.
3. Don't relax. We do not go to church to relax and hear
someone talk on and on. We are there to worship, to learn
from God's Word. Don't get comfortable. If the building is
too warm, remove your coat. If too cold, put it on. Do
whatever you can to be ready to concentrate on God's mes
4. Block out distractions. Often my mind will wander
on other things that are happening—the roast I put in the
oven. Will it be done for our company? Possibly the activi
ties of the children for the day will be on my mind. What
will I talk about with the new couple we have for dinner? I
don't know them well enough to know what to talk about.
These and other thoughts will wander through my mind. I
have to learn to shut them out and concentrate on the
message and the service.
I realize the problem mothers of small children have getting anything out of the message. I came home many Sunday mornings telling my husband, "There is just no use in my going to church. All I do is wrestle with the children and try to keep them quiet. I don't hear anything that is said."
I did continue to attend every service and God did speak to me from time to time. I started taking notes. The children thought that was a game, so they wanted paper and pencils too. It helped in keeping them quiet so I and others could learn from God.
Some churches have nurseries and for some mothers that is good. I never really appreciated nurseries. We didn't have them when my children were very young. As they grew older nurseries became a part of the church, but I felt by then it was more important for my children to be in church with the family. Make this a matter of prayer. Ask God to help you know what is best for your learning as well as what is best for your children. Whatever you do, don't stop taking them to church. It is so important that they know Christ is first in your life because you attend the services in His House.
5. One of the ways to shut out distractions is to sit close
to the speaker. When there are several hundred people in
front of you, you naturally notice when a baby fusses, or
someone leaves the sanctuary. Our minds are off—why are
they leaving? Wonder what is wrong with the baby, etc.
I know that everyone cannot sit up front. But, in all the churches I have attended the front seats are usually empty. Take advantage of this vacancy.
6. Follow along in the reading of the Scriptures and the
singing of the songs. Too often we sit and expect to absorb
whatever is going on. We must work at it to keep our
minds alert. Following along in the Scripture reading or
taking part in the singing will keep our minds on the busi
ness at hand. Most of the time the Scriptures and songs are
picked because they add to the message from God's Word.
A new light may come to us through this part of the service as well as the message.
7. Why do people sit in seminar after seminar, church
service after service and their lives not change? Was there
nothing for them? It is proven that, if we use more than one
of our senses, we learn better. When children hear a story
read to them, it may remain with them for a little while.
When they have visuals with the story, it remains with
them and they learn more from it. Child Evangelism, Inc.
has been leaders along with our Sunday School publishers
in using visuals to help our children learn the Bible truths.
One way we can help ourselves learn more through
visuals is to take notes. In taking notes we not only learn
through hearing, but in seeing and doing.
God must have realized that humans have short memories for He wrote down the ten commandments for Moses. He has preserved His Word for us to see. In the early days the only way of sharing God's Word was in repeating the stories. Today God has given us the printed page. He knew we needed more than just hearing to truly learn His way.
8. Underlining special verses that speak to your life
will be another way of helping yourself learn. These wilW be easily looked up when you need them at other times as well.
9. Look for one need in your life from the message or
seminar and apply it. Makes plans to put into effect the
way you are going to make the change that God has spoken
to you about. A