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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  • not a bad sermon for a quarter!

  • My favorite to tell my pastor. “Pastor, another great sermon. that is the best hour of sleep I get each week.” He knows I’m kidding.

    • You may think that he receives it with humor. He may laugh it off in front of you. But don’t think for one minute that the seed you planted doesn’t have a slight sting to it.

  • My 2 favorites : 1) you should preach like that every week! (Hmm… Is this a left handed compliment?)

    2) That was a great benediction at the end of the service. Thanks for that! (okay… 20 hours of prep and 40 minutes of pouring my heart out, and you appreciate the… Benediction?!)

  • “I wish you’d preach from John, chapter 3.”

    I receive this comment or a variation of it regularly from one person in particular: This senior man was converted at an old tent revival where the preacher used that text, and has repeated told others in the church that I don’t preach from the gospel of John enough! His implication is that if I would just preach from John 3:16 each week, all the struggles and difficulties our church is experiencing would be a thing of the past. He has also threatened to leave the church if I ever preach again from the HCSB Bible, as he prefers the KJV. The odd thing is that he was on the pastor search committee that unanimously recommended me to the church almost 12 years ago, and he knows that I almost never read from the KJV from the pulpit.

  • mike midkiff says on

    In a meeting called by a church member to speak with me, she brought a friend a long as well, she shared with me, “you always mention Jesus in your sermons and how to be saved. I’m already saved, I need more than that. To much Gospel in your sermons.”

  • Jonathan S. Jenkins says on

    Just yesterday in a deacon’s meeting before our Sunday pm service I was told by a deacon that our attendance was dropping because I preach too long. I was thrown off and didn’t know how to respond. To be honest, even this morning, it has me doubting myself in my preparation for next Sunday. I’m not even what most would consider long winded somewhere between 25-35 mins on average per message.

    • Many times the service runs over time because people take too long with announcements and other preliminaries. Thus, the preacher is forced to cut his sermon short or to go over time. In my early days as a pastor, I used to do the former and cut my sermon short, but I’ve gotten ornery in my old age. Now I just remind people that my sermons are the same length every Sunday. If we get out late, it’s because they talked too much, not I.

  • Often after an excellent sermon I find myself wishing I could share it with other people. However in many churches the sermon isn’t available as a recording.
    I’m frequently guilty of “I wish {fill in the blank} could have heard that sermon.”
    I never realized that wanting to share an excellent sermon with others would be seen as an insult.Perhaps I should precede it with “I really enjoyed the sermon”

    • I don’t really take it as an insult, but it can be a little frustrating, depending on who says it. I remember seeing a “Beetle Bailey” comic strip where Beetle and Killer were coming out of church. Killer said to the chaplain, “Nice going, Chaplain! You really zinged them with your sermon today!” After they left, the chaplain said, “Why do the ones I’m really trying to zing always say ‘them’?”

  • Joe Magby says on

    Had my pastor once say (in a sermon) that one of the common things people mistakenly say to the pastor is, “I’m glad so-and-so is here to hear that one… Especially the part about gossiping/grumpiness/etc.” The idea is that someone ELSE in the group should have listened to a specific part, while the complainer/commenter needs that particular word just as bad as anyone else.

    Hope this is making sense. Anyway, I make it a point to jokingly go up to the pastor, shake his hand and say, “Great message Pastor, SOMEONE really needed to hear that.” He’s my dad, so we both laugh about it.

  • Dr. Rob Coram says on

    First of all, thank you for all that you do. I have a man in our church that is Biblically strong. But he constantly leaves me letters asking me why I didn’t go deeper or why I didn’t mention this or that. Sometimes he feels he has to remind me of the background of the text. Very deflating after a sermon.

    • Put him charge of a bible study. He obviously has something to teach and he needs the outlet. And personally , I love it when someone is confident enough to step up. We don’t get that often enough in our church. We have folks that have been saved and baptized for 10 years and still haven’t managed to get through their whole bible yet. I just say, “Look up Alexander Scourby on Youtube. ”

      I am IFB and was visiting a A of G next door to be an encouragement, and yes we pray for their success as their pastor of many years moved to the border of NV/CA and their biggest giver died (of old age) and he just found the drive burdensome, (60 miles). Well we know of 3 mature men who we are sure would be great preachers and have tried to encourage them to step up and take the responsibility, but Nooo, they don’t want the responsibility. So a sister church is sending preachers down to preach at 3 pm, (25 miles) between their normal services, and being a former pentacostal, and used to go to that church many years ago, have been popping over between our services and am pleased to say the preaching is much like a Baptist. Sorry it took me that long to get to the point.
      In their first reopening, the preacher asked who was the father of David? No answer. I was perplexed. how could it be nobody there knew this? (16 adults besides me, young and old, some in 70’s, 80’s , folks I knew for years). He asked again. I popped out “Jesse”. And kind of am still amazed they could be in church that long and act like they are so dedicated but didn’t know David’s bloodline.

  • When I first started preaching a few years ago, getting comments like “well done” or “you’re getting better every time” were appreciated as I was possibly equally concerned with developing my confidence and technique as well as nailing the point of the passage.

    However, fortunately I get these less and less and, as a result, get fewer comments. However, when someone says “that was really helpful” and explains which bit connected with them the most, or when someone does say it spoke to them where they were, it really is so, so encouraging. It really is not the frequency of comments that matters, but the nature of them. Praise God for the way he uses average people like me to actually speak truth to people!

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