5 things pastors hate to hear about their messages

John Ortberg shares this list of five in the most recent issue of Leadership Journal:

1. “Your preaching has improved.” Sometimes when I hear this one it is strengthened by enthusiasm; your preaching has really improved. I think this comment is generally intended as a compliment, but it’s hard to say. Certainly it carries the message that your previous sermons left plenty of room for improvement.

2. “I’m so glad you said ‘X’.” But in fact you didn’t say “X”; you were trying to say the opposite of “X.” It makes you wonder what sermon they were listening to.

3. “I heard Andy Stanley/Tim Keller/Jon Piper/Rob Bell give a similar talk one time.” Only it turns out that their talk was actually much better than the one you gave, and the enthusiastic listener wants to give you a play-by-play account with commentary on why it was better.

4. “I’m just not being fed.” This is an all-purpose comment, offered more generally than in response to one particular message. But it does make me wonder, if preaching is a form of feeding, why is there no tipping afterwards?

5. “The Lord told me to tell you …” “… that you look tired,” “… that you hurt my feelings,” “… that this church needs more messages about stewardship/missions/culture wars/the Colbert Report,” “… that you chose the wrong clothes.”

Read more here…

What’s the worst (or funniest) thing that anyone has said to you after a sermon?

Please DO share!



  • JohnO November 13, 2012 Reply

    “I enjoyed the hymns today,” is always a comment on the sermon.

  • Pastor Ian November 13, 2012 Reply

    “Great message Ian, but you didn’t really develop your third point.”

  • Blake Chenoweth November 13, 2012 Reply

    “if your message was 20 minutes shorter, I would say good sermon.”

  • Tim Ghali (@tg24) November 14, 2012 Reply

    Ha! Early on, a guy came up afterwards and actually said, “That was a waste of a morning.” I told him, “Yeah, I also thought the worship was off as well.”
    I blogged a bit about this too from a non-weekly preacher perspective – http://ow.ly/fhQHe

  • Chuck November 14, 2012 Reply

    Two incidences that have not yet been pressed so deeply into my psyche I cannot recall them…

    1) In 1995, a lady came to me after service and said, “That message was so good, it had to have come from someone’s book of sermons.”
    2) The contention of a guest of our church in 2002 that I had no idea what I was talking about concerning who the Sadducees were and their beliefs, because he claimed, he had been in church most of his life and never heard the information I included in the sermon.

    People are funny.

  • Mary SEay November 14, 2012 Reply

    Sorry to say, I am not being fed. Yes, feeding the flock IS your job.

  • CHUCK BOMAN November 14, 2012 Reply

    Two comments: once after preaching a sermon on our loving each other like Jesus said we should, One lovely, elderly lady came up and said, “Well that’s just your opinion!”
    On another occasion I preached a sermon again on God’s love. Afterwards I had an elderly gentleman come up and say, “that was a NICE try son.”

  • Warren November 15, 2012 Reply

    After preaching a sermon designed to challenge and make people think about their own lives and their own outlook toward something, it’s especially defeating to hear “I enjoyed that sermon.”

    I want to shout at them “You weren’t supposed to enjoy it! It was supposed to make you uncomfortable! It was supposed to make you see things that you don’t want to see! If you enjoyed it, I have failed!!”

    But I didn’t. I just smiled and nodded, and went on to shake the next hand.

  • One day I gave what I thought myself was a bad sermon. As I was shaking hands after service one person didn’t know what to say so commented on the weather. I almost laughed out loud!

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  • Richard December 18, 2012 Reply

    “The Lord told me to tell you I’m just not being fed because I heard Andy Stanley/Tim Keller/Jon Piper/Rob Bell give a similar talk one time but I’m so glad you said ‘X’ which is an indication your preaching has improved.”

    Gotta drop that on a Pastor friend Next April Fools day… 🙂

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  • Matt J April 22, 2013 Reply

    I was the youth pastor of a mid-sized Pentecostal church, year back, and a member of the congregation walked up to me and said…”I have a message to deliver to the Pastor.” I will NEVER forget what happened next.

    The “prophetic” member of our church walked over to our 60-65 year old pastor and slapped him across the face so hard, if was heard in the nursery. Stunned, I walked over and attempted to detain the “prophet” while he kept shouting, “Repent! Pastor, Repent!” “Humble Yourself!”

    I decided that day, that the pentecostal church just wasn’t my cup of tea. 🙂

  • David Foreman April 22, 2013 Reply

    Much like a play, movie, or book, a public speech is open to critique. In most ways, preaching IS a form of entertainment. Realizing there is no clergy/laity division, and that we are ALL priests, helps each of us to have our words commented on. That’s called “conversation,” which is always much more difficult that preaching.

    • jerry April 22, 2013 Reply

      Obviously u have never preached

      • lifewalkblog April 23, 2013 Reply

        Obviously? Really? What’s obvious about it. Well, NOTHING, since I have indeed preached. Often. I was a co-pastor, elder, worship leader, teacher, counselor, etc. etc, when I was part of institutional religion.
        It’s seems to me, the only obvious thing here is your inflated sense of sefl-worth.
        I don’t do “back-and-forth” so I’ll let you have the last word, since I don’t think I’ll be reading more of your responses.

  • kleimoladmkDale April 22, 2013 Reply

    A woman with a Baptist background enthusiastically approved of a funeral sermon I preached . . . a few days later was Easter Sunday . . . the same woman and same enthusiastic response . . . she asked to meet with me the next day. I did. Her agenda? She wanted to know when and where I was saved. I told her March, 1953 in Westmont Illinois. I was 3 months old. Did I say I’m a Lutheran pastor? She left certain I still hadn’t found my soul.

  • Lynn April 23, 2013 Reply

    “Great sermon, preacher, but I felt like I was in a History class back in high school” (after a sermon out of the Old Testament)

    The same guy once said “Good sermon, but did you know your cowlick was sticking up? For the next 3 weeks, I found myself constantly feeling the back of my head.

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