What People Hear When You Preach

Two people recently told me that they’ve begun attending another church and informed me that, “They preach the same stuff you did.”

One person who told me this goes to a liberal Anglican church pastored by a woman. The other person goes to a Presbyterian church pastored by an angry homeschooling Calvinist man.

These are pretty different churches! Yet both told me that these churches that have little in common with each other, both “teach the same stuff you do.”

Is it possible that I preach the same thing as a liberal woman and an angry Calvinist man? Is it possible for anyone to do that?

So, what’s going on here?

In the case of the one person who told me this, they were rarely in church. When they were in church they were frequently staring up and to the right at the ceiling. I can see them in my mind in their typical seat, staring up and to the right. Even when they were there they weren’t paying attention!

The other person is one of those older ladies who think everything is wonderful. She also told me that I preached the same stuff our church’s former pastor did. This is funny because more than half of the people who left my church over the years left because I was not preaching what the previous pastor taught! I don’t think this dear lady has a judgmental bone in her body toward anything with Jesus attached to it.

So, here’s my opinion of what’s going on:

No one is really listening to preaching. People hear what they want to hear. They will either hear what affirms them or offends them regardless of whether the preacher said those things or not.

People are in their own worlds. Over time you will discover the three people who actually hear the real words coming out of your mouth and think about them.

No one else is hearing you. Oh sure, they’ll hear your illustration and the funny story about your dog, but that’s it.

Anglican women and Calvinist men have nice dog stories too. “You guys all preach the same thing!”

No one is listening. Understand that. This will do three great things for you:

1) It will free you up to preach what you believe in your style.

2) It will help explain when people find problems with stuff you never said.

3) It will help explain why people keep saying you preach the same stuff as people who wouldn’t agree with you.

No one is listening. This fact explains a lot of otherwise confusing input! Might as well go for it, they aint listening.

_________________
The Failing Pastor has a new book, How To Not Grow Your Church available on Amazon as an e-book, paperback, or hardcover. CLICK HERE to get your copy because you know you need a smaller church!

5 thoughts on “What People Hear When You Preach

  1. I think we are listening to sound bites, funny stories and what rhymes or acrostic. I strive to be a serious biblical theologian. People KNOW I have a seminary degree. Unfortunately I think I am a “dieing breed.” A sermon based on “Hallmark” or “Guide post” magazine is suffice for many people as long you get them out in under an hour. This is my “before morning coffee” commentary.

    Like

    1. Yes, attention spans are gone. Adequately explaining any biblical concept requires context. Giving context takes time and attention. No one has that. Just give me the happy spin that makes me better today and really has nothing whatsoever to do with biblical scholarship.

      Like

  2. Yes, people hear what they want to hear. But I disagree that pastors are preaching different stuff. Both the Anglican and Calvinist; and in my case Lutheran preach from the lectionary and the Gospel is the Gospel. Of course, they may preach differently but many times it is the same message- Love God, Love your neighbor, etc but people still, hear what they want to hear.

    Like

      1. Two things:
        1) Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
        2) Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s