How to Preach to Sleeping People

Sometimes there is more to the story than just a bored listener.

I think his record was 15 minutes.

Usually, he was out in under 10 minutes. Brother Leroy (not his real name) just couldn’t seem to stay awake during the sermon. And he wasn’t a quiet sleeper. On occasion, he would snore, but most of the time he would throw his head back, mouth agape, and drift into a sleep so deep I’m not sure he’d have heard Gabriel’s trumpet.

After the service, I would stand in the back. Brother Leroy would nod and tell me, “Good sermon, pastor.”

I’ll be honest and tell you that as a young pastor, I was deeply offended by this guy. If most of the congregation was falling asleep, I might have concluded I was the problem. But there were many others truly engaged. This one was on Leroy.

I concluded that Leroy was an unspiritual man who had zero taste for the preaching of the Word of God. Christians value God’s Word. How could you fall asleep when someone is passionately sharing the gospel?

Are you bored with Jesus, brother Leroy? Why even bother coming to church? What are you getting out of this little charade?

Compassion for sleepy congregants

Then I had a conversation with Brother Leroy. He told me, “I really do appreciate your sermon’s, young man.” Then he kind of chuckled and said, “Well at least the parts I stay awake for. I’m really sorry if you’ve ever noticed me nodding asleep …”

(Oh, I’ve noticed Leroy. How could I not?!?!?)

“I’m on this darn medicine I have to take in the morning, and I just cannot stay awake. I try, but the medicine seems to win every time.”

Being young and foolish at the time, I probably concluded that Leroy was just making an excuse for his sleeping. But over …

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