Over the years I’ve served one church as pastor and ten churches as interim pastor. Besides that, I’ve served as a supply preacher or missionary speaker at countless churches. At many churches after the service, the preacher stands at the main exit and speaks to the folks as they leave. Many feel compelled to say something about the sermon.
The comments the departing attenders make vary widely and wildly. If you are a visiting preacher, they often say thanks for coming or thanks for preaching for us today. However, if you are the pastor or interim pastor, the comments change. Of course, many say, “Good sermon.” Old-timers sometimes comment, “You really stepped on my toes today.” Other times, people say things that are humorous, frustrating, or touching. Here are some that I recall vividly.
I spoke on missions at a church in East Texas. After the service, a man came to me and said, “Most missionary presentations are terrible, but yours wasn’t half bad.” (I believe that is called “being damned by faint praise.”)
At a church where I served as the interim pastor, an elderly gentleman paused to say, “Brother Mark, I sure do like your preaching.” (I thought—now here’s a guy who appreciates a well-crafted sermon.) Then he continued, “Yes, sir, you always let us out on time.” (That’s the main thing, after all.)
At that same church, I preached a sermon entitled “Grow Up,” based on 2 Peter 3:18. After the service, one of the deacons said, “Brother Mark, those people really needed to hear that sermon.” (This comment made by a man who was conducting a long public feud with his brother, who was a deacon in a sister church.)
At the church I pastored in Kentucky, a woman came to me after the sermon. She said, “How did you know I needed that sermon? How did you know my personal situation?” (In fact, I did not know about her problem.) I replied, “ I did not know about your situation. I planned to preach that sermon six months ago. That was the Holy Spirit at work.” (On occasions like that I can only say, Wow!)
Of course, I have preached sermons on repentance from sins of commission or omission, and people said, “I really enjoyed that sermon.” (Comments like that frustrate me, and I want to blurt out—“It wasn’t meant for your enjoyment.”)
I normally preach expository sermons. One time after preaching in West Texas an older lady approached me. She said, “Brother Terry, I know where you got your outline. It was right there in the Bible.” I responded, “Yes, that is exactly right. I took my outline from the Bible passage.” She replied, “You know, I never heard a sermon like that before.” (That made me wonder.)
Well, what about you? Have folks made comments to you that