10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Pastor Right After the Sermon

I’ve actually assembled more than ten things church members have told pastors immediately after they preached. But these are ten responses where pastors have had the most visceral reactions.

  1. “I am going to be late for lunch because you preached so long.”
  2. “You must not have had much time to prepare that sermon.”
  3. “My former pastor preached a much better sermon from that text.”
  4. “I wish {fill in the blank} would have heard that sermon.”
  5. “You act like you weren’t feeling well while you preached.”
  6. “I’m sorry I fell asleep while you were preaching. Your voice just puts me to sleep.”
  7. “Your subject/verb agreement was incorrect three times in your sermon.”
  8. “I wish you wouldn’t preach from the Old Testament.”
  9. “Let me tell you what you missed in your sermon.”
  10. “Are we ever going to be done with this sermon series?”

Pastors often take 10 to 20 hours to prepare a sermon. They pray for God to speak through them. They preach with conviction and fervency. And then they hear one of these sentences.

These ten responses are close approximations of what pastors have actually told me. I am sure there are many more. Let us hear what they are.

Posted on March 2, 2015

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • “You don’t preach the gospel.” …probably because I don’t always extend a traditional revivalist invitation.

  • Richard Smith says on

    One day I went a bit longer than usual and heard about it at the door. I am not sure what God was trying to teach me but the sermon was on “Church Unity”. They use to tell me we sang too much at the beginning of the service and they wanted to hear more from me. I found out that obviously they could get “too much of a good thing.” Better to laugh about it than to cry. Thanks for all the work you do on our behalf in ministry!

  • Jason Myers says on

    After coming off of the Sunday pulpit, hearing about an issue from a vehement church member is emotionally deflating. The issue is usually not of eternal importance. I had this happen literally as I stepped off the steps of the pulpit at the front of the sanctuary. People do not realize, or maybe they do, the words are hurtful.

  • Jim Langston says on

    My very first sermon at my first full-time pastorate…..after studying, writing and re-writing several times, a young lady said, “I’m sure your preaching will get better.” Humorous now! BTW…. I still stand by that message! LOL

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Yes. I’ve had that a number of times as well!

    • Have you ever read W.A. Criswell’s autobiography? His predecessor at First Baptist in Dallas was the great George W. Truett, and Criswell was only 35 years old when he became pastor there. During his early days there a woman told him, “Dr. Truett didn’t shout, but I suppose we’ll get used to that. Come to think of it, Dr. Truett wasn’t very good when he first came here, either, but look how much he improved!”

    • Well, I’ m sure no one wants to hear it, but listening to someone newer preachers often is pretty painful. Especially if you’re used to someone who’s very good at preaching.

      On the other hand, it’s really cool to hear them improve over time, but I’m still not sure that, “You’ve really improved” would be an appreciated comment. I just tell them I liked it.

  • I’m not sure I understand why #4 is something that a pastor wouldn’t want to hear. I suppose it might be similar to what Jim Evans said above about “good job.” Couldn’t a pastor simply remind the commenter that “the podcast will be available for download tomorrow” or something?

    I ask because on numerous occasions I’ve shared podcasts of sermons I’ve heard with friends who weren’t at that church that morning.

  • I always like ” that was a great sermon, pastor. I hope the people you were talking to this morning were paying attention.”
    My typical response to that, (or to #4 on your list) is “apparently you were.”
    thanks for the reminder that we’re all in this together, and face the same challenges

  • I cringe at the phrase “Good job.” I preach for life change not an Emmy Award.

    On the flip side, one of my favorite responses is “That really spoke to me this morning.” or ” That message was really for me pastor.” When a little tear or catch in the throat accompanies one of these phrases all my study, prayer and delivery are rewarded in gold.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Well said.

    • I remember a time that the pastor was out of town, and he gave another guy in the congregation who had aspirations of going to seminary an opportunity to preach that morning. The guy got up and went 10 mabye 12 minutes on the book of Jonah. You could tell he was discouraged. Just kind of got to the end of it, and realized that he didn’t have as much as he thought. Like I said, he was discouraged, and when the pastor got wind of it, he wasn’t all that happy either.

      The thing is though, those 10 minutes were awesome… spoke directly to where I was at that point, extremely moving and convicting. Was very glad to have the opportunity to encourage him afterward, and affirm him to the pastor as well.

      Sometimes its not always our best work that the Lord chooses to use to reach people.

      • Charles Spurgeon was converted when an unprepared layman kept stumbling over the same verse in Isaiah. So, yes, I agree… sometimes even the most unprepared work can reach people, proving that the Lord is sovereign, and that His Word is powerful, even when spoken by feeble men/women.

      • Suzanne Livingston 2 says on

        When you have given the message God has given you, it is time to stop. We leave time for the Holy Spirit to speak to the congregation.

      • Too bad we don’t have thumbs up and likes here.

    • Jennifer says on

      Sometimes people aren’t very good at articulating their feelings. There is probably more behind the “good job” sentiments in at least some of those cases.

    • You shouldn’t cringe at the words “Good Job”. I say it all the time to our pastor, because he has done a good job rightly dividing the word of truth to us and a good job serving the Lord and following his lead. I surely don’t mean that he’s a good actor. The agitation at the phrase “Good job” is an argument of semantics, and you aught to give your people the benefit of doubt that they don’t intend it in an unhealthy way.

      • Could easily argue that “Good job” is essentially the same as “well done”, and I think we are all looking forward to hearing that. Take it as a foretaste of wonderful things to come.

    • Shawn Messer says on


  • H. B. "Sunny" Mooney, III says on

    Thank you for the Monday morning jocularity!

  • Was it just because you had an audience of young people that you condemned us all to hell?

    Who put you up to giving that sermon? It did not appear that you wanted to give it but were forced to.

  • Lee Haley says on

    Thom- are you thinking of writing a book on this subject? I think we can easily supply the material- all one liners!

  • H. B. "Sunny" Mooney, III says on

    Thanks for the jocularity this Monday morning.

  • That part of your sermon where you called people that disagree with you about your view on that passage a bunch of idiots was rigid, unloving, and irresponsible.

    • Thom Rainer says on


      • As you can probably guess, I wasn’t on the receiving end of this one. I probably wouldn’t admit it if I was. This also didn’t take place right after the sermon… I heard him say that, and I took a walk.

        I waited a couple days, and wrote what I thought was a loving letter of correction (the sort that I have frankly seen ridiculed on here before), and the response was for him to compare himself to Paul and Christ himself for his boldness, and to put me in my place.

        This was a man who the Lord used to speak into my life while I was first meeting the Lord, so when I say that I approached him with love and respect, it’s not just words. I was shocked to hear him speak that way, especially in a context where he was sending new graduates out to university and the world in general with that attitude. There was no, “I went a little too far” or “I regret having worded that way”.

        It may have worked for the best for us, as I think my wife (especially) and I put the man up on a pedestal a bit too much. This also may give you a little bit of background as to why I am generally confrontational in particular on the posts that are made here about conflict management.

      • There are ten things (at least) that a pastor should not say to his flock from the pulpit. Pastors are people and they don’t know everything. The idea is to be iron sharpening iron, not insulting. We all stand in need of a good talking-to from time to time because we all have blind spots. But if you have someone who will tell you the truth, you’d better hold onto that person or else there will be more truth running around in the hall than in your office.

      • You are correct. The key to this post is “right after the sermon.” There is a place for constructive criticism. It is not usually well received at the close of a service.

      • joseph jkynuthier says on

        majority of untrained pastors have an attitude of “why train and am filled with the Holy spirit” while the trained one have a know -it-all attitude, while. i am convinced that training doesn’t make you a super Wikipedia, nor does spirit filling make you an angel! in fact there are a lot of things angels don’t know

      • Richard Chelvan says on

        I remember attending college (H-S.U.) and the pastors (of various SB churches) would cut the sermon short because of Football (the real religion of Americans in the South).

        Here are a few more:

        What was your grade point average in seminary?
        A new formula (I heard this from the son of a famous Baptist theologian whose Systematic Theology is very popular): CAve = MDiv.
        Pastor, do you even read anymore? Like Systematic, Historical, Philosophical, and Biblical Theology? Do you even understand what it is when Jesus said “Feed My Sheep!”
        Now you preach one sermon on Sunday and you expect your congregation to eat more solid meat?
        Have you retained any Koine Greek, Hebrew language at all. Do you need some recommendations?
        Why do you never preach on reaching the Mormon, the Muslim, and etc. why is the mission field “over there” and not here?
        Pastor, the men you surround yourself with, the elders, are they trained in the Word of God? What is their function if you’re the only one doing the teaching and preaching?
        Pastor why did you preach on Christian love, hospitality and community and the responsibilities of the elders toward the sick, the elderly, the wayward and yet I have not seen hide or hair of the elders or you and why have you repeatedly refused my invitations to share a meal at my humble home (since you have not invited me to yours)?
        Pastor, why do you constantly preach about the church being the called, called from lives of sin, despair, hopelessness and that we must trust in the Holy Spirit for protection and yet you want us potential members to submit to intrusive and extensive background checks?
        I could go on but I will restrain.

      • Natalie Brooks says on

        The congregation in society today is lacking tremendously and need to wake up and realize that they need to get there homes right before tearing down leaders in the church that are trying to leD them in a better direction and they are not perfect.. Satin always wants to defeat and I’m sick of people that dint even have there own lives together yet they are putting down the pastor for saying the bold truth as he should.. However unfortunately shallow people in the congregation rather put the pastor down rather than looking at the 3 fingers pointed back at themselves… I’m tired of the pathetic people that don’t take any responsibility for themselves…

    • Clint Abrams says on

      The pastor never needs to hear from a critical spirit that speaks through a person, and it’s usually about nothing more than their own opinions. I’ve heard recently that our worship music and microphones were too loud and it dampened the message of God?? I didn’t argue about this, I just simply said, I’m sorry you feel that way, but God gets his truth to people through hearing the message. Romans 10:17 tells us that truth clearly! That settled the matter and nothing else was further discussed. Be blessed.

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