Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrew 12:1-2
My husband always makes fun of me because I have to sit in the same seat at church. It’s not a territorial thing, rather its because I get distracted very easily. My husband, on the other hand, likes to sit in different seats. He likes different scenery, or so he says.
Staying focused during sermons is something that I have struggled with most of my life. I am a huge thinker and always have a running conversation with myself all day long. I like to call myself a deep thinker. Even when I’m just thinking about dinner!
Growing up in a charismatic church was always great for staying awake and alert during church. Something was always happening. However, in my adult life, I have ended up at contemporary churches that are a very different experience from the church I attended growing up. It took some getting used to at first. Hello, 1-hour services. But I love all of the differences and have really grown in my faith by employing these 7 methods for staying focused during church.
Here are 7 methods to stay more focused during church
1. Choose your seat wisely.
For me, I have found that sitting in the center towards the front helps me to focus my attention. I have fewer things to look at because it's too awkward to turn around. When I used to sit in the back or the balcony, I felt like I had a TV to watch. There are so many interesting things that happen during the message. I had to find the right spot to aid me in focusing during service.
I, also, try to sit in the same general area every week. Don’t get me wrong if there is no seat in the area I find another area to sit in. But, I have found that by sitting in the same area every week, I get bored looking at my surroundings because I have already gone through studying everything. So find a seat that will eliminate or greatly reduce the distraction.
2. Take Notes
Taking notes is a great way to stay focused. You have to listen more intently and process for the key sentence and verses to write down. Does it matter if you never look at them again? No. Why? Because note-taking is a tool that can be used on so many different levels. While it would definitely benefit you to look at them again if just the process of taking notes keeps you focused that’s okay. My friend once told me about a woman who said she never looked at her notes again. It was all about the process that held her accountable for really paying attention to the sermon.
3. Handletter your notes
This is my favorite new way to take notes and is great for anyone who is a kinesthetic or visual learner. Hand-lettering is the modern way to write calligraphy. I love it because I keep part of my mind busy by drawing the letters while the other is filtering all of the information that I am hearing. I draw maps, big words, arrows, and anything else that my creativity produces. The best thing about it is that my notes look very artistic making me want to view them again throughout the week. I was amazed at how much more soaked up when I started hand-lettering. Give it try. Look on Pinterest and start practicing 1 font. When you have a good hold on the font, use it for your note-taking.
4. Have a Running List of things that pop into your head
Usually, when we are in a time where our spirit is being fed, we encounter every idea we have ever thought of and everything we need to do. In order to combat this, make a list. Don’t try to push the thoughts out of your mind, instead, have a paper dedicated to things to think about later. When something pops into your mind write it down and move on. You don’t have to dwell on everything that pops into your head. If you find that your thoughts become really aggressive during this time, begin to pray. Fill your mind with words to God and don’t relent until the thoughts dissipate. While you may not have gained a ton from the sermon, you still have spent intimate time with the father instead of thinking on this or that.
5.Have a moment of peace before you go to church
Sometimes, Sundays can be the most hectic day of the week. Usually, you can’t find something, or of course, your car needs gas. Whatever the case, try to reserve a part of your morning to just sit and rest. A chaotic morning can sometimes breed a chaotic mind making it difficult to really rest. I know this is so true for me. If I have a lot going on, my mind feels jittery because I haven’t taken time to have proper rest. This doesn’t have to be a long time.. 15 minutes in the parking before you get out of the car at church is enough to help you to get focused on God.
6. Spend time in the word throughout the week.
What we feed throughout the week we will crave. Choose to consistently spend quality time with the Lord during the week feeding your spirit. You will begin to crave God’s word more and more. You will find that you focus more on the church because you are hungry. You want to learn more about the great God that we serve. Things that used to distract you will distract you less because you have kept your eyes fixed on Jesus all week. What you look at is what will become the most attractive to you. So if you look at Christ all week long, you will become more attracted to him and less attracted to the pleasures of your flesh that cause you to become distracted.
7. Teach someone what you learned
I have talked about how important discipleship is before. It doesn’t require you to be a biblical scholar. You just have to be a little further ahead of someone else. If you don’t know where to start, you can always share and discuss what you learned in your sermon. This forces you to take careful notes, and listen more intently so that you are able to share what you learned with your disciple. This includes any questions that popped into your mind throughout the sermon that you can’t answer. It’s just a great jumping off point.
Focusing during the sermon requires more discipline for some than others. It can be especially difficult if you aren’t used to sitting for a long time, or don’t understand the terminology mentioned. Use these tips to help you become more focused and less distracted during the sermon. Begin to notice that what distracts you and make a game plan to tackle that distraction when it happens. Being prepared, allows you to not dwell very long on the thing that distracts you. I hope you enjoyed these 7 methods and find them fruitful in your life.
"Loving Father, Thank you for giving us the ability to worship you corporately. We don't take it for granted. Help us to stay focused on you. Remove the distractions and guard our mind. We want to be closer to you. In Jesus' Name, Amen"