In a recent article at his website, ministry professor and church consultant Chuck Lawless lists 14 reasons laypeople tell him they aren’t listening to sermons. Here are the first seven:
They are distracted. People come to our services with all kinds of concerns and worries. Failing finances. Wayward children. Job insecurity. Heath concerns. Family battles. And even lunch plans. It’s difficult to listen when other issues are swirling through your head.
The preaching is boring. Sorry, but it’s true in some cases. People struggle listening to preachers who somehow make the gospel boring. Given our Internet access to many passionate, clear preachers, boring preachers become that much more obvious today.
The proclaimer has hurt the listener in the past. Pastoral ministry is seldom easy, and preachers sometimes make mistakes that wound others. Members occasionally wrestle with forgiving, and that makes it harder to listen to the preacher when he speaks. Pain still blocks their hearing.
They have sin in their lives. Listeners who are holding onto their sin are living in idolatry. Those same listeners often have no desire to hear the Word of God, though they’re attending the service. Really hearing the Word would bring conviction.
The preaching is not Word-based. More and more, we hear from believers who want to hear nothing less than the Word of God. They are not interested in the latest news, today’s sports events, or the funniest jokes. They want to hear a word from the Lord.
The preaching lacks application. We hear the comments often. “He focuses on the Bible, but he talks over our heads.” “We learn a lot, but we don’t know what to do with the Information.” Even the best Word-based preaching demands helping hearers understand how to apply truth to their lives.
The people are weary. Just a quick glance through a worship center on a Sunday morning will make this point obvious. When people are asleep before the preacher ever starts speaking, you know the preacher is not the problem; a lack of rest is. (Read the rest of the list.)

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