1. It helps you stay focused on the sermon.
I struggle to stay awake through sermons. There, I said it!
No, I'm not praying, as much as I'd like you to believe that. I'm falling asleep! Yes, I got some sleep last night (though maybe not as much as I would have liked), but still I am falling asleep during the preaching.
It has very little, if any, to do with the preacher or the sermon preached; it is simply a matter of my body shutting down when I am sitting still. Many can relate. I can rarely sit through a whole movie, I hate board games that take longer than 15 minutes to play...and I might yawn 5 or 6 times during our conversation. I might not even make it through writing this article before I start another one. I like to be active and I have a short attention span (Call it ADD, ADHD or whatever). I'm not saying I shouldn't work on it more, and I'm not trying to make excuses for myself. It is just the facts.
For several years in Oklahoma, in a church of about 2,000 members or so, I sat in the choir, and people watched my head bob throughout the sermons. For many of those years, my favorite preacher was my pastor--Sam Davison. I love his style, the way he takes command of the service, the way he so clearly communicates the Scripture, the way he applies it...even his farm illustrations made me want to be a farmer... but I would nod off several times during his preaching, and people would ask "How can you sleep during Sam Davison's preaching?!" I don't know, I just did.
One thing I have noticed that helps with this, however, is the simple practice of saying "A-men" throughout the message. You have to be careful, though, because if you are not paying attention you may holler "A-men" at a very inconvenient time. Some preachers will trick you, you know?
"Let's go to Romans 10:13," the preacher will say. "The Bible says 'for whosoever shall be BAPTIZED shalt be saved,' right?"
You shout out, "A-men!..."
Suddenly, everyone is looking at you and the preacher says "No, not A-men, it says whosoever SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD..."
You knew that...but you weren't paying attention!
I don't know, maybe this is why some people don't want to say "A-men." But anticipating the right opportunities to agree with specific points of the sermon can help keep your mind focused. It can help you stay awake, and let's face it, you don't really want to be the one being laughed at for falling asleep during a message...especially if you are the second man!
2. It validates what is being said.
When the preacher makes what sounds like a great point, and everyone is silent, one might sort of wonder if what the preacher said was right or not. However, if men in the church are joining the preacher in agreement, others who aren't so sure what to think may be a little more accepting of the message as it is preached.
Now, I'm not saying we should lie. Sure, there have been times I have disagreed with something that a preacher says... okay, many times. It is my nature to question things, but it wouldn't help anybody for me to cringe, frown, fold my arms in protest, or look at my wife and shake my head. What I do instead is try to keep a straight face, maybe even write down a note or two to remind me to look up that point later (maybe even politely discuss it in private with the preacher...I could, and maybe should, write a whole article on how to go about doing that properly...), and then I wait for another point I can "A-men." Trust me, it will come!
This becomes even more important during a message that is a little more controversial or less popular to preach. When people hear something that contradicts everything they have been taught in the world, they have a natural tendency to prick against it. As second men, we have a responsibility to lead by following. When you follow, others will follow, and soon the majority will follow. This makes your participation in a service (by simply saying "A-men") almost as important as the delivery of the message itself.
3. It encourages the preacher.
Every preacher understands this. If you aren't a preacher, just imagine standing in front of people trying your best to deliver a message and half of the crowd is falling asleep. It is hard to tell if the other half agrees with you or not because they are just staring at you. Now imagine the majority of the men nodding their head and saying "A-men preacher, that's right." It is a HUGE encouragement, and I would say it almost always increased the overall quality of the delivery of the message.
So there! It is our fault if we think a message is dry and boring. What part are we playing in helping the preacher preach? Let's consider this during the next message we hear, and let's try to get better at supporting our preacher.
Lord bless you, and may your passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15)
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