Criticism from “certain people” is often the best way for the pastor to know his sermon was spot on.
For the most part, I get zero feedback from people about my sermons. Therefore, I have to do a little digging to figure out how “well I did.”
Typically the same people will tell you “good sermon” every week. This means very little. I look for the person who asks a question about something I said. To me, that’s a compliment. I got them thinking.
Then there are the criticisms. It’s easier for people to criticize than to praise. If I mispronounce a word or give the wrong reference, you would think I’d just dropped a hydrogen bomb on a village of innocent women and children.
Then there are those who will walk past quickly, not making eye contact and then will write an email on Tuesday. They always wait until Tuesday. They lull you into calm. “I didn’t hear anything bad on Sunday or Monday, guess I did ok! I must be in the clear!”
Nope, Tuesday morning has an email waiting for me. The email begins with:
“On Sunday you said. . .” something that I sort of said but not entirely. By the time Tuesday comes their emotions have stretched what I said into something ridiculous. They will then copy and paste 327 verses pointing out how “what you said Sunday” is not right.
Never mind “what you said Sunday” is nowhere close to anything I said Sunday.
But these people are doing you a service. They are letting you know you hit a button in them. You got them! You got them so much that they are still fuming on Tuesday! I mean, that’s some serious sermon retention!
There are Tuesdays where I can’t even remember what I talked about Sunday.
Sure, they might have stretched what you said out of proportion, but you can still tell what they are upset by. And boy howdy is that interesting!
I got one guy who will write a Tuesday email anytime I talk about how we’re supposed to do good works. Anytime I ever say anything about doing anything, I know Tuesday will bring an email. “Let go and let God. We’re human beings not human doings.”
I got another guy who will write Tuesday emails if I don’t mention grace enough or love or being accepted in the beloved. “You need to talk about grace and acceptance more or else we won’t come to your church.”
I got another guy who wrote Tuesday emails if I mention anything that might remotely touch on anything that might make someone question whether they are saved. “Works righteousness! You’re sounding Catholic.”
I take these as compliments because more than likely while I was doing my sermon prep, I had these guys in mind. I’m poking them. The fact they felt poked lets me know I did my job.
Criticism from certain people is the biggest compliment you can get.
“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”