I think we’ve all been in this situation at one point in our lives: Sunday service ends and as we get up from the pews, we are greeted by a slow moving traffic line of people heading toward the exit. The reason for this congestion? The pastor (and usually their spouse) is at the end of the line, greeting and thanking each individual who came to visit that Sunday. If you have been ‘unfortunate’ enough to only have one exit in the church, then you have no choice but to follow the crowd. But if you have two or more, than usually half the congregation rushes out those doors in order to avoid the pastor (or they have something more urgent to do)!
Though if your pastor is doing this, its a good thing. It shows they cares for their congregation and that they’re a people person. So don’t be afraid. Your pastor wants to hear how you are doing and how the Lord may have spoke to you through the sermon. I know this experience can be intimidating especially for those who are introverted. But they’re there for your benefit. You’ll only have a few minutes at most since they have to share time with everyone else, so how do you make that moment count? Here are some tips of what to say.
1) Address your Pastor by Title
If you really believe your pastor means what their title commands than you would address them the same way you would a professor or a doctor. The word pastor means shepherd or protector in the Greek. So in essence, by addressing them as ‘Pastor ___’ you are essentially saying ‘you are a shepherd in my life’. And even if you don’t get along with them well, you still are submitting to God’s divine authority. As it says in Romans 13:1
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Let me rephrase that. Subjugate yourself to your pastor and a manner that is appropriate by speech and deed. Put yourself under their rule and authority. Not in order to look good or please man, but because God’s word says so.
2) Be truthful about the sermon if it was positive
I’m sure every pastor’s pet peeve is when a person shares ‘the sermon was good’ and immediately walks away. It happens to me all the time. What does ‘good’ mean? Was it rhetorically sound? Was it biblical? Were you uplifted in your spirit? A pastor needs to hear details in order to provide better feedback. Imagine if a doctor prescribed cough medicine and you responded in the same fashion a week later. ‘The medicine was good’ you say to them as you run back to your office. What ‘good’ does that do? The only thing it accomplishes is hide our true feelings and intentions. And that’s not what the body of Christ exists for.
Share what instance in the sermon you were impacted, or perhaps a personal reflection that came up as you were listening. Try to be uplifting and as detailed as possible, even if only for a short moment. If your pastor cares for you and is listening to the Lord, they will follow-up as necessary. What’s more important is that instance of fellowship and helping you hear the voice of God.
3) Say nothing about the sermon if you weren’t affected by it
The worst thing you give to your pastor is criticism, especially if its with a judgmental spirit. ‘I didn’t like what you said here’ or ‘You should have done X or Y better’ is just asking for trouble. And it ruins the mood for everyone else in line. Thankfully, I haven’t got that at my church for a long time, but it happens more than you think. There are several reasons I would argue you shouldn’t be critical about sermons outright:
- The pastor is likely exhausted from the sermon and not in the mood for that
- The purpose of a sermon is not that the pastor says the ‘right’ things but to hear the instruction of the Lord
- It’s always better to pray about a dispute before confronting (1 Timothy 2:8)
- Constructive criticism is best offered in a private setting biblically
Let me just focus briefly on point number 4. Did you know a sermon from one of the best preachers of Jesus’ time was not criticized out in the open? It was by a couple, and at their home. This preacher was called Apollos, and he was arguably a better preacher than even Paul the Apostle (imagine that!). But if you read Acts 18:24-26, the couple Priscilla and Aquilla had to straighten him out in a private setting, so they wouldn’t make a scene out in the open. So if you have something constructive to discuss, save it over a cup of coffee.
Now there’s only one exception to this; and that’s if the pastor preaches something heretical, like saying Jesus isn’t God. Then yes, we need to be up in arms about it. Sound the alarm. Bring it to the elders. But that shouldn’t be the norm every week. At least I hope its not. Otherwise, there’s an old saying, ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all’. We need to choose our fights wisely.
4) You don’t have to talk about the sermon itself
There’s always other things to share about other than the sermon. You could share a bit about your week or something that you’re struggling with. Perhaps a need within the family. A word of encouragement always helps, as pastor’s are always wondering if they are doing a good job. But again, keep things positive. Keep the spirit of Ephesians 4:29 about building up the body
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Have any questions or concerns? Please leave one below.