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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  • “Pastor, I keep a list of the dates you preach from certain passages, and it seems that you have preached from the same assage you preached from today (Luke 9:28-36) at least four times in the twelve years you have been here. ”
    “”Thanks, but you do know that I preach from the lectionary, and you do know that this is Transfiguration Sunday.”

  • The way you walk around as you preach, you’re like one of those tv preachers!

  • Jan S Yoder says on

    From June of 2014. Posted on Marginal Mennonite Society Facebook page. [Slightly edited for clarity.]

    I stopped in at Scottdale Mennonite Church this morning to say hello and perhaps goodbye for the last time to some of the old guard from the now long gone glory days of the Mennonite Publishing House in Scottdale. That part was pretty nice, they all seemed happy to see me and ask about other siblings, doings. where I lived (my car, I say, as I am traveling at the moment), but the service was, for me, interminable, and ultimately not for me, and after it was over, the minister came up to me and introduced herself [and asked me what I thought of her sermon] (I knew her long ago, and would never have recognized her). I said, and I quote “I did not agree with a single word you said.” The reason is that the sermon, or message, or whatever they call it now, was all about how we are broken, imperfect, unworthy, sinners, and other variations on that theme. [I was cringing throughout!] I strongly disagree with this teaching, as it is much of the reason that it has taken me 50 plus years to remember my awesomeness, that I am whole and perfect, just as I am. Do I do things that are not so great, get mad, sad, howl at the moon, break my word, swear, run around with women (who are not my wife (don’t have one at the moment, so no, not exactly cheating on anyone))? Yes, emphatically yes! My behavior is not perfect, there is a lot of room for improvement, but that is doing, not being. As a being, God created all of us perfect in God’s image – we are little pieces of ‘all there is’, running around, being divine, making messes, occasionally remembering that we are what we are, casting our light out there for others to see, shining our brilliance, helping others to see their own worthiness, amazing gifts, wholeness, magnificence.
    For far too long we have been told that we are broken – it is time to turn this around and start insisting that we are not broken, but to ask everyone to help us be accountable for how awesome we are! For years I was told that I was not good with people. I was quiet, somewhat introverted, at times painfully shy, and at other times the life of the party, witty, funny, everything I was told I was not. Turns out that I am really good at listening, especially to women. I have a softness to me that allows them to open up, and I honor their femininity. I have changed the way I am – I offer guidance, and seldom if ever tell anyone what to do. I noticed that when someone told me I should do something, I almost invariably would knee-jerk in the opposite direction. If I was offered choices, and allowed time to choose, then a dialog could occur.

    [Sometimes the message needs to be heard from a different direction.]

  • These comments are windows into the lives of our parishioners. Some in our pews are full of anger, some are simply inept at communicating. If we hear stuff like this, what do they say to their spouses and children? And some are incredible people-pleasers, they want to be remembered as the one who always has a kind word. We love that, but maybe we should think more deeply about what the word is, who its coming from, and what that tells us about them.

    Maybe a good way to think about these sorts of comments is that sometimes everything isn’t all about us.

  • Lucas Albrecht says on

    [as a guest preacher, standing on the front door beside the local pastor greeting people – having not preached from the pulpit and having used visual illustrations.]

    -Good day, sir!
    -[loud voice] hey….what are you thinking?? You did not preach from the pulpit!! You excluded many people there up in the balcony!! (never went across my head that could happen)
    -And we don’t need any “kids drama performance” in the sermon!! No one came here to see theatre!

    At first, I thought that was one of those well humored guys every congregation has, just joking with me. But is was the other way around.

    The funny thing is that he complained about the sermon, but complained also that he was not able to see it in full from the balcony. So, actually I think he appreciated it.

    As a side note, Holy Communion was held between the sermon and the front door greetings.

    The local Pastor told me later that he went to that family’s lunch that Sunday and that everyone scolded him for that.

    But, as I look back now, it is kind of funny.! : )

  • The problem is when
    1) Pastors don’t take time to prepare a sermon.
    Some of them have the audacity not only to announce it, but also claim that what they were preaching that moment was involuntary, as a result of the Holy Spirit taking control over them. They thereby attribute a supernatural connotation to cover up their negligence.
    2) Pastors don’t sincerely pray for God to speak through them. Some of these don’t pray at all & some others just go through the motions of the formality of praying.

    I must confess though that many Pastors do preach with conviction and fervency, including the ones mentioned above.

  • I’ve heard responses such as were you talking about me in that sermon, I was like no the Holy Spirit is the teacher, I’m just the vessel delivering the message, and how could I’ve know about that situation?

    I don’t get it. Believers should know that the Holy Spirit reveals what is hidden or needs to be addressed.

    Woe to preachers who do use the pulpit to address issues that are confidential.

  • Darren Thomas says on

    “I’m sick of hearing about all this love love love stuff. When are we going to hear a good message on sin and judgment?!”

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