There are certain things we pastors sometimes say while delivering sermons that run counter to our best interests — and undermine the effectiveness of the message we’re communicating.
So here are five phrases I try my best to avoid:
1. “If you don’t listen to anything else I say, hear this . . . “ What you’ve just done is render the rest of your message meaningless. Not to mention creating some unnecessary drama around this thing you’re “fixing” to say.
2. “In conclusion . . .” Deadly on two counts: 1) people immediately start gathering up their pocketbooks, cellphones, and kids so they can beat the parking lot traffic; and 2) worse, most pastors who say this keep talking! I heard a message not long ago in which the pastor spoke for 20 more minutes after uttering those deadly words.
3. “I am reminded . . . ” My very first professor of preaching at Asbury Seminary told us not to use this phrase. I’m not sure why, but since I’m still eager to please my teachers, I don’t.
4. (When at a funeral) “I never knew [the deceased], but . . . “ You’ve just lost the congregation, not to mention minimized the person who has died. After all, that funeral service is not about you; it’s about the grieving family and the memory of one now deceased.
5. “I didn’t have much time to get this message ready . . .” You had time. You just didn’t make time. The acknowledgment also lessens credibility. Immediately.