Saving Eutychus Without A Miracle

32483538_sOn one occasion while the apostle Paul was preaching, a young man named Eutychus fell asleep.  While asleep, he lost his balance and fell to his death from a third story window.  However, because Paul was a worker of miracles, this story doesn’t end tragically, but rather triumphantly.  The record states that Paul went down and raised this young man from the dead (Acts 20:7-9).

Since we live without access to the supernatural powers Paul possessed as an apostle, how are we to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring today? How can we save Eutychus without the power to raise the dead?

If you were to ask a preacher what makes people fall asleep during the sermon, your top five answers would probably be:

  1. They take medication that makes them sleepy.
  2. The songs were sung too slowly and drained the life out of everyone.
  3. They stayed out too late on Saturday night.
  4. Disengaged, carnal listeners who zone out when the Bible is preached.
  5. The thermostat was set too high, and the heat made people sleepy.

But did you notice that every one of the suggested reasons place the blame on the listener? Might I suggest that some of the blame might rest upon the preacher, himself? Consider the following:

  1. Preacher, don’t expect your listeners to be excited listening to a sermon you’re not excited to preach.
  2. Preacher, don’t make the Word of God boring to your listeners due to your lack of thought and study put into your preparation.
  3. Preacher, use illustrations that draw people into your lesson.  Finding the right illustration takes time, but it’s the way Jesus taught.
  4. Preacher, don’t use “warmed over” sermons you preached five years earlier.  The “Old, Old Story” needs to be preached over and over again, but do so in “fresh” ways and from new angles.
  5. Preacher, improve your introductions.  Grab your listeners’ attention, create suspense, and bring resolution in your conclusion.

So you see, maybe it’s not just the fault of everyone else.  Maybe preachers are just as much to blame.  So if we’re going to “save Eutychus” today, I offer these three parting suggestions:

  • Listeners, don’t lose sight of what it is you are hearing – the Word of God!
  • Preachers, don’t lose sight of what it is you are preaching – the Word of God!
  • Put bars on the windows.
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Comments 3

  • Love that last line! I have to admit to falling asleep in church at times, usually when a warm little child is snuggled up asleep on me! When I have free hands, I like to take notes to keep myself engaged and awake.

  • Also we can close the window and use the AC. Very good instructions

  • Other factors that help listeners dose off during sermons are the INACTIVITY & the PREDICTABILITY of the TIME allotted. Therefore, I suggest increased mental involvement, increased creative involvement, physical activity, altering the time frame, or a temporary mystery. Let me explain with these possible suggestions for helping listeners stay awake during sermons:

    (1) A hand-out (writing) helps some listeners.
    (2) Preach half of the sermon, building up to the use of its most fitting Scripture. Have everyone stand to read that verse aloud, in unison. After they sit down, the last half of the sermon is preached.
    (3) The same idea can be used for standing during the middle of a sermon to sing an appropriate hymn that’s been discussed.
    (4) At the sermon’s beginning, announce that throughout this sermon, there will be questions to which listeners are to reply by raising their hands.
    (5) Preach the sermon alongside a hidden object, covered by a box. Tell listeners that as you preach, they are to guess what object is hidden. Anticipation & mystery will help some stay awake for the answer & its explanation.
    (6) Begin a sermon by saying something such as, “For the next few Sundays, I plan to preach a series, but today’s sermon, the first in that series, has no title because that is going to be your job as listeners. While I preach, you come up with this sermon’s title or a slogan for it. Next week, I will reveal some of my favorites that you wrote.” (This challenges listeners to ponder deeper & respond.)
    (7) Perhaps long ago, you saw Marlin Connelly do his Sunday night chalk talks. Although they were never as polished as a Powerpoint, something about their being in process while the speaker spoke helped people listen.
    (8) Occasionally, listeners need to be asked, “What are your motivations for being here at worship today?” Later, ask. “What are God’s motivations for wanting you to be here at worship today?” “WHY does God want that for you?”Thanks for being conscientious toward the responsibilities of both the preachers & the listeners. Lynette Carnahan Gray

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