When it’s time to listen to a sermon, open your Bible. When the preacher is referring to a particular text, read the surrounding context. Look up cross references. Even if the preacher has the scripture on a powerpoint, you should still open your Bible.
I also recommend taking notes. When the preacher raises a good point from the text, write it down. Jot down questions that come to mind. If you think the preacher says something that isn’t exactly right, write down why you think the preacher has missed the point. If you take notes during a sermon, you have already moved beyond passive listening.
Listening to a sermon is not a substitute for studying our Bibles, but it can be a time that prepares us for better Bible study. Of course, some preachers are better speakers than others, and some sermons have better content than others. If we’re in the habit of simply listening for the preacher’s opinions about the text, there’s a good chance we’ll find ourselves either confused (because we don’t understand how he reached his conclusions) or bored (because we’ve already heard that person’s opinions numerous times before). But if we listen to the sermon with the goal of learning God’s word better, it can be a good time to grow more familiar with the Bible, regardless of the skill level of the preacher.