On 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:
- They take medication that makes them sleepy.
- The songs were sung too slowly and drained the life out of everyone.
- They stayed out too late on Saturday night.
- Disengaged, carnal listeners who zone out when the Bible is preached.
- 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:
- Preacher, don’t expect your listeners to be excited listening to a sermon you’re not excited to preach.
- Preacher, don’t make the Word of God boring to your listeners due to your lack of thought and study put into your preparation.
- Preacher, use illustrations that draw people into your lesson. Finding the right illustration takes time, but it’s the way Jesus taught.
- 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.
- 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.