Preaching Articles

This might surprise you, but one of the most dangerous times for a pastor are the hours following his Sunday sermon. You step down from the pulpit still wired and juices flowing as you greet those leaving from the service. Then, like after a good jog, you begin to calm down, your body starts to return to “I’m not preaching mode” which then brings a temporary but real emotional letdown with it.

These reasons are enough not to trust our instincts and discernment in these moments. Yet, what we also inevitably face during this emotional tailspin are the encouragements, comments, questions and criticisms (or lack there of) given from those who sat under our sermon. Needless to say, how objectively and honestly to evaluate our own sermon in the midst of all this can be a bit of a challenge. Here are four suggestions I have found helpful:

1. Receive the encouragements now.

Nothing lifts the spirit in the emotional spiral of post-sermon fatigue like a warm, honest, specific comment from a church member about how the sermon was helpful to them. Those are a gift from God by His grace. Receive it immediately, but receive it humbly, realizing it was only the work of God to help that person, not so much the craftiness or eloquence of your sermon.

2. Store away the criticisms for Tuesday morning.

Any criticisms you hear need to be received, graciously acknowledged and then honestly considered, but not one hour after your sermon. Most of us who have just poured our hearts out in preaching are not at a good place to evaluate criticisms. Always graciously receive all comments. However, those comments that may be particularly hard or even harsh to hear are better evaluated after two good nights of sleep. Write them down. Leave them on your desk. Try to forget about them until Tuesday. I have not always been able to do this, but when I have had the discipline to do so … it is worth it!

3. Look forward to Service Review later that evening.

If you do not have a process in place to evaluate the services and sermons for the day with other pastors and those training for the ministry, I would strongly encourage you to do so. About four to six of us meet for an hour on Sunday evenings after the evening service to discuss these things. It is very helpful to try and evaluate your sermon among trusted, discerning brothers in your church who desire for you to grow. See these previous posts for more info on the purpose and process of a Service Review.

4. Recognize your work is done.

The best thing to do an hour after your sermon is to realize your hard labor from the week that peaked in the pulpit a few minutes ago is now over. For better or worse, you were faithful. Find great joy and encouragement that God will do the rest through his Spirit being at work in his people who heard the Word of God preached. How peaceful we rest Sunday night as we lie in bed depends much on how much faith we have that God and his Word does the work and even my disappointing sermon I just preached does not change that.

Consider these suggestions as you set your hand to the plow this week that will culminate in the pulpit on Sunday. I hope this helps you evaluate your sermons in a more fruitful manner. There is one thing better than being willing to evaluate your sermons honestly and that is knowing “when” is the most fruitful time to do so.

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James Bailey

commented on Apr 11, 2015

Good advise.

Lawrence Webb

commented on Apr 11, 2015

My freshman Bible professor many long years ago, recognizing how we are occcupied we are with what we anticipate doing or what we have just done, said the preacher should not drive at least half an hour before or after preaching. This probably is an alternate way of saying what you say here.

Doug Lapointe

commented on Apr 13, 2015

Interesting about the driving! I agree. I also do not eat anything very near a sermon, before or after.

Helen Frances Wallis

commented on Apr 12, 2015

I have been preaching for 40 years and only now have I read such good advice for the post-sermon /service time! Praise God that that by the power of the Holy Spirit... the work is just begun, and the new challenge for the next week rises before us. Thank you for you wise words

Doug Lapointe

commented on Apr 13, 2015

Perhaps the same reason for not ever resigning on a Monday.

Helio Fabio Castro

commented on Apr 14, 2015

Good morning to thanks by these amazing article to whom believed in God! but the problem to sudamerican people is that we want to learn English so that we can understand; so we would like to listen the content we're watching that's mean you

Dennis Cocks

commented on Apr 14, 2015

Very good advise, and so true!

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