One of the practices we have adopted in our church is recapping the main points of application from our Sunday sermons in our home groups. Usually, we take the three or four key points of application and dig into them a little bit more. Here are some reasons we have found it helpful.
Not everybody hears first time
The nature of preaching is such that not everyone hears everything the first time you say it. I don’t think many of us are so compelling that we only need to speak once and everybody hears everything. The fact is, we all tune in and out. We all drift off, we all start thinking about other things, we don’t all hear every word. And this is all the more true if you have children mithering you. Recapping the key points of application midweek gives us an opportunity to remind people of what they might not have caught first time round.
You can’t apply to every situation
No preacher can apply every point to every possible situation in front of them. Usually, we think of two or three examples that try to cover a range of people in the room. But inevitably, we will not pointedly apply to every situation in front of us. Instead, we tend to give a few worked examples in the hope that the folks you haven’t applied it to so directly will be able to work out from the examples given how it does apply to them. Discussing the key applications midweek allows us to apply the passage to a broader range of people and think more deeply about how it applies to those of us in the room.
You can’t apply everything fully
Not only can you not apply to every situation, but even the ones you do apply, you can only press the point relatively lightly. That isn’t to say your application can’t land, or isn’t direct or effective. It is only to say that there is so much more you could say about what you do apply. Sometimes it is helpful to pick up on the application you have made and to press further into it midweek. There may be things that broadly apply to people in your specific example, but as you press further into the details of how it might work out, folk are able to see more clearly how these things apply to their particular situation.
Others might have different insight into how it applies
As a preacher, most the applications I give are drawn from however the passage seems to apply to me. So, I might think of the main point, think about the people in my church, and then apply that point to those people as best as I can. But quite often, those same folks will have pretty good insights into how those points apply to them (and to others) too. Different, but nonetheless insightful, applications. It helps to have a space where people can chew these things over together and we have found our midweek groups a great place to do that.
Hearing from others helps us encourage them in the Word
If we preach the passage and tell people how it applies, we may not have any ways of hearing from people how well those particular things landed. We might try to engineer them in different ways, which is good. But one way we have found helpful is in our midweek groups. As we hear people applying those principles to themselves, they often say things like ‘that particular application really nailed my situation because…’ or, alternatively, ‘I can see that might apply to some people, but my life is more like this so for me…’ We get to hear whether our applications are landing or not, and helpfully get to hear how they might have applied differently to others. This helps when it comes to our applying next time round because we have heard what lands and what doesn’t and with whom.