By Matt Henslee
On any given Sunday, pastors will stand behind various pulpits with their translation of choice, and preach a sermon from a text of Scripture.
They’ll do so in front of 50, 500, or maybe 5,000 smiling (or sometimes, napping) faces in buildings that range from small to large, rural to urban, and everywhere else in between.
The Scripture text they preach on will vary, as will these preachers’ attire—some wearing a full suit, others raggedy jeans. As it turns out, preachers actually don’t have that much in common aside from the Savior they proclaim to those who come to hear God’s Word in gathered worship.
But leading up to Sunday, all preachers have at least one other thing in common.
They all listen to something while preparing their upcoming sermons, even if that something is silence. My preference is to listen to film scores. I created a playlist on Pandora that pulls from films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit.
From film scores to classical
David Worley, pastor of Bethel Baptist in Greenfield, Tenn., does the same but with Braveheart, and, sometimes, the sounds of a crackling fireplace on YouTube.
Many preachers prefer similar options because instrumental music is devoid of distracting words. Fancy-pants Joel Rainey, pastor of Covenant Church in Shepherdstown, W. Va., says he listens to Mozart, while Heath Peloquin, pastor of Summer Grove Baptist in Shreveport, La., prefers Rachmaninoff.
To rap and rock
Then there are those like Daniel Waid, pastor of Central Baptist in Albertville, Ala., whose preferences include Christian rap artist Trip Lee.
Ryan Collins, pastor of Poplar Creek Church in Bartlett, Ill., prefers heavy metal. Rock on, brother. You do you!
Some stick with more nondescript sounds
Like Jeremy Rose, pastor of The Axis Church in Nashville, Tenn., who introduced me to “brown noise” that uses lower frequencies to block out unwanted sounds. Just google it or have a listen below.
Or Scott Gossett, a lay preacher in Pipe Creek, Texas, who prefers the ambient sounds of nature.
And then the realist of all, Scott Doran, who listens to his two-year-old yell. I get it, for sure, which is why I study outside.
Whatever it is you listen to, don’t forget the Holy Spirit.
Whether we prefer classical, rap, rock, yelling kids, or the sound of silence, may we all enter 2020 with ears tuned to the Spirit’s guidance as we preach the Word.
What a privilege it is to proclaim to the world that Jesus saves! Whether we preach in jeans or suits, in front of 50 or 5,000, in the country or the city, and as newbies or veterans, may we never cease to be amazed at such an incredible calling.
As we launch into 2020, let’s keep the main thing the main thing and make much of Jesus. If you’d like some read some of what your fellow co-laborers are listening to, click here.
MATT HENSLEE (@mhenslee) is managing editor of Lifeway Pastors and coauthor of the book Replanting Rural Churches. He is the husband of Rebecca, father of four princesses, and pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico.