There are always some very kind folks who say to the preacher, “you are great”, or, “your preaching feeds me like no other preacher I’ve ever heard.” And they really mean it too! No doubts there are some preachers who absolutely live to hear words like that. The real problem occurs when the preacher begins to believe those reports.
I’ve been thinking recently about how really dangerous “good” preaching can be. When a congregation first gets a new pastor, and he is deemed by most in the congregation to be “good”, the doxologies at the church door are like the praise for all blessings flowing out of heaven.
· “Wonderful job, preacher!”
· “I really enjoyed that.” (seldom spoken on stewardship Sunday)
· “Oh….I just can’t tell you what that meant to me.”
Now, if those reports are absolutely accurate, and the sentiments are heartfelt, where’s the foul…what’s the harm in giving a compliment? Everyone likes a stroke, a pat on the back.
Here’s the harm
Preachers are human; if you hear those reports often and long enough, they begin to sink-in and take hold. Preachers are prime targets for pride and self-promotion. Most of us have sufficient ego to float a battleship; we don’t need secondary inflation.
So…what DO you say after the service?
Well….whatever is said at the door, it is best kept short (you don’t want to get trampled by a bunch of Methodists heading for the cafeteria).
And whatever is said should reflect what God’s Word meant to you. After all, we call preaching “proclamation of the Word” (not the preacher’s nifty speech). To reflect meaningfully on God’s Word it is imperative that you should be listening for God’s Word in the sermon, AND applying His principles to the way you live your life.
And whatever is said should be in light of what’s at stake:
Jesus told a story of a very wealthy man and a beggar. They lived very different lives, of course. The rich man was very selfish, ignoring God’s opportunities to help the poor man. In the end, he wound up in Hades, while the beggar wound up in paradise. The rich man had a conversation across the great gulf between heaven and hell; his requests for relief were denied, and so was his request to send someone to warn his still-living brothers back on earth about this awful place. Request denied; this way:
“…‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:31b (NLT)
The point here – what’s at stake here – is whether we will listen for the voice of God. It’s never about who’s preaching, or how cleverly or powerfully the message is delivered; it’s all about God’s message to you.
The danger of good or even great preaching is that we become so accustomed to the voice, we forget The VOICE; it is God’s will we are seeking – not entertainment from a highly-skilled, charismatic man.
Make it your purpose this coming Sunday to listen for God’s voice. Then tell the preacher what you heard. The preacher also needs to hear how God’s speaking.