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10 reasons some folks didn’t listen to your preaching or teaching this weekend

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We who preach or teach are kidding ourselves if we believe everyone is listening to us when we speak. Somebody’s not listening (and, if weren’t honest, we can identify some of those folks by just watching them while we’re speaking). Here are some of the reasons folks weren’t listening this past weekend:

  1. Distraction. Something else was going on in their head—like worries, concerns, exciting plans, or even lunch. Sometimes, though, that distraction was actually something that happened in the sanctuary when we were speaking. It’s hard to miss, for example, when someone in front gets up and leaves several times during a sermon. 
  2. Fatigue. Sometimes people in our class or congregation were just tired. Maybe they stayed up too late. Maybe they worked all day the day before. It’s hard to keep your ears alert when you can’t keep your eyes open. 
  3. Sin. Some people who came to your church this past weekend came out of habit more than out of love of God. In the hidden areas of their lives, they’re walking in sin—and they didn’t really want to hear your message in the first place. 
  4. Boredom. Let’s be honest: some of us are more boring than we think, but we just don’t know it (in fact, I’ve met only one boring person who actually knew and admitted he was boring). Boring speakers seldom attract attentive listeners. 
  5. Lostness. It’s possible some of the people who heard your teaching this past weekend were not believers. Even if they’ve been faithful attenders, their lostness may have gotten in the way of their hearing. 
  6. Wounds. Wounds that you or I caused, that is, at least in their opinion. Perhaps some have a less-than-positive history with you, and past events made it difficult to hear you this past weekend. They just can’t tear down the wall of yesterday’s disagreement. 
  7. Ego. I don’t know how often this one happens, but it does happen. Some people didn’t listen this past weekend because they think they know more than you or I do anyway. If they listened at all, it was for the purpose of critiquing and correcting—not for personal growth. 
  8. Disbelief. Particularly as the prevalence of deconstructing faith increases, it’s possible some of your hearers didn’t listen simply because they increasingly don’t believe your message anyway. Their disbelief hasn’t yet resulted in their departing the church, but they’re moving in that direction. 
  9. Spiritual warfare. Jesus warned us that the enemy seeks to snatch the seed of the Word away before it ever settles in our heart (Mark 4). If you preached or taught the Word of God this past weekend, you can assume this kind of attack on your listeners. 
  10. Absence. This one’s simple: many people didn’t listen to you this past weekend because they weren’t present. They missed the Word—and that truth should drive us to our knees on their behalf. 

This article first appeared at ChuckLawless.com.

    About the Author

  • Chuck Lawless