After all, most of us didn’t go into this so that our words could vanish into thin air, never to be heard, much less considered, again.
Yet even the best preachers (so I’m told) get all kinds of different responses and reactions to their messages. Here are just a few . . .
5. People hear what someone else has said. At least once a month someone will say to me, “Well, it’s like you said in that sermon one time . . . “ and then quote something I don’t even believe much less ever said. A few weeks ago it was a version of the “God helps those who helps themselves” that I supposedly preached one time. I usually smile and nod, and rarely correct.
4. People hear what more — or less — than you said. On a recent Sunday, someone offered me effusive thanks for words I’d uttered the previous week, saying how much that language had helped her in the intervening seven days. That same morning, another person let me know in a gentle way that those same words (same section of the same sermon!) brought her some pain and discomfort. People hear what preachers say through the lens of their own experience and expectations — and we who preach need to be ever mindful of that reality.
3. People hear what you say and disregard it. Oh well. We just want to make sure that if people do cast what we say aside, they’re missing out on something that would have benefitted their lives.
2. People hear what you say and repeat it back to you later. Of course, we love it when this happens . . . especially when the “repeat-back” is accurate. I have found this to be much more the case with a one-point sermon than with my older method of having three or four emphases per Sunday.
1. People hear what you say and embrace it into their lives. Tempers get controlled, wallets get opened, marriages get restored, forgiveness gets offered, and salvation gets received. And that’s why we preach.