Why We Listen to Sermons

Calvin Shorts book by Scott Hoezee on why we listen to sermons

Basic information

  • Author(s):
    • Scott Hoezee
  • Included in: Calvin Shorts
  • Published: February 7, 2019
  • Publisher: Calvin College Press
  • ISBN: 978-1-937555-34-4
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-937555-35-1
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Calvin Shorts book by Scott Hoezee on why we listen to sermons

Why do we listen to sermons? Why has preaching been the most common part of worship for 2,000 years for nearly every Christian tradition?

Why do we listen to sermons? Where did sermons come from in the tradition of the church and how has preaching managed to hang in there across 2,000 years that have seen so much change in so many other areas of life and even in the church? Most Christians listen to a sermon every week. But what is a sermon? How does it relate to the Bible and how does the Holy Spirit work through so many sermons every Sunday? By looking at the history of preaching up to current-day practices, this book will provide insight into not only what a sermon is but what it should be and how those who listen to sermons can evaluate what they are hearing. Along the way the book also considers the nature of the Bible and its ability to continually surprise us as well as the mystery of preaching and how sometimes people hear wonderful messages in sermons that the preacher never said.  


“Of making many books on preaching there is no end, but in this powerful little book Scott Hoezee turns the subject around, beautifully and helpfully addressing some vital yet rarely answered questions: Why sermons? How should we listen? How do we respond to them? After reading this, your ears--and your life--will never be the same.” --Rev. Peter M. Wallace, producer & host, “Day1” radio program/podcast

“A good preacher takes the joys, the mess, and the complexities of life and plunges it into the rich soil of Scripture. Trusting that the intersection of ancient text and contemporary life is the place where grace and mercy will be manifest to the assembled community. Scott Hoezee has spent a lifetime at that intersection - thinking about the way good sermons help us make sense of our lives lived in the company of God and our neighbors. Why We listen to Sermons will remind you of what is at stake for both the few who preach and the many of us who listen.” --Rev. Laura Sumner Truax, Senior Pastor, LaSalle Street Church, Chicago, IL, Author of Undone: When Coming Apart Puts You Back Together

“Most preachers spend lots of time preparing for you to hear their sermons. They think through transitions, illustrations and the way they move their bodies. Most preachers pray and study a lot before they preach. Every once in a while preachers also wonder, “how do listeners prepare to hear sermons?” Scott Hoezee’s Why We Listen to Sermons offers a winsome, easy to read, and helpful work for those who listen to sermons. It balances historical insight, practical habits, and biblical wisdom. This is a book for those who preach and those who listen to sermons.”--Jonathon Brown, Pastor, Pillar Church, Holland, Michigan

“Easy to read, interesting and an incredibly helpful tool for thinking about and evaluating the preaching ministry of your church. A great read for elders, board members, adult education classes, worship committees, and youth groups. Everyone will benefit from learning more about this central task in the life of the church and will be better equipped to listen to and encourage the preachers we know.” --Rev. Dr. Mary S. Hulst, College Chaplain, Calvin College

“Scott Hoezee's new book, Why We Listen to Sermons, will make a great resource for an introduction to preaching/homiletics class or for laity who are interested in learning more about their pastor's regular routines of sermon preparation and development. The Church needs more accessible books like this!” --William C. Mills author of Losing My Religion: A Memoir of Faith and Finding

“Scott Hoezee's Why We Listen to Sermons is not only a wonderful piece to use with laypeople in a Christian education setting. It is a moving reminder for us preachers of the sacred privilege preaching is and the always surprising work of the Holy Spirit in that enterprise.” 
--Rev. Daniel T. Moser, Director of Worship and Religious Activities, Bay View association of the United Methodist Church, Bay View Michigan

“Scott Hoezee's guidance is clear, deep, and marvelously well informed. Fascinating!” --Cornelius Plantinga, President Emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary

"The author was not kidding when he wrote that this book can be read in one sitting. I picked it up and could not put it down till it was done. Typical of Scott, he brilliantly combines elegance with simplicity. The book demonstrates his masterful skills as a preacher capable of offering deep insights in accessible language. The book also stresses the weight of the word of God to form disciples of Christ in God’s grand narrative, thus presenting his primary principle in a memorable alliteration: Sermons Showcase Scripture. But this is not just a book for preachers, it is also a guide to discerning listeners of preaching, providing them with four categories to evaluate the world of the Bible and our world today (Biblical – Contextual), as well as the life of the speaker and the life of the listener (Authentic – Life Changing). I highly recommend this book for study groups interested in the topic of preaching starting with high-school age." -- Anne E. Zaki, Faculty of Practical & Pastoral Theology. The Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt


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