Is It Only Me?

I’ve noticed something in my preaching, and I wonder if I’m alone. When I’m preaching a message and coming towards the closing stages, particularly when I am communicating specifically with not-yet-Christians, it seems that the moment is often ripe for a distraction. Just at the point of speaking of the cross and our response to the gospel, a child cries, a door slams, a siren wails, etc.

Perhaps people are simply tiring of staying focused, or increasing activity behind the scenes allows for more distraction as the service comes in to land. Perhaps I just convey tension and communicate poorly at this point. Perhaps. Or perhaps it is a reminder of the spiritual war we are in when it comes to the souls of men and women who are not in Christ. The god of this age has blinded the minds, and to be involved with the light of the glory of the gospel shining in, is to be involved in the greatest spiritual battle that has raged down through time. Perhaps it is a reminder to pray, and to consider the importance of intercessors during the preaching of the gospel. Or perhaps it is just me.

12 thoughts on “Is It Only Me?

  1. I am a trainer in EE (Evangelism Explosion) and we talk about this all the time. It happens every time we are going through the gospel presentation the phone rings, the dogs start barking, the kids start acting up or someone else comes to the door. It is a spiritual battle that we cannot see, but we can recognize. We go out in teams of three, so if I am doing most of the talking, the other two will be praying.

    This has also happened when I have preached in Brasil and when starting the invitation to respond to the gospel, cars start honking their horns, thunder, kids start crying, dogs start barking, all kinds of commotion starts up.

    All that to say, it is not just you.

  2. Maybe we should preach in teams of three . . . one standing at the back to quickly encourage mother’s of crying children to step outside, and one outside to wav at cars and stop them hitting the horns. Or maybe concurrent prayer might be more effective!

  3. It’s not just you. When the baby cries say, “Cry out to the Lord…” When the phone rings say, “It’s the Lord calling and wants you to be saved today.” When the siren goes off say, “One day the trump will sound…” Okay, I’m done.

    It’s not just you. And those times are tough and should be handled with confident grace.

  4. “Maybe we should preach in teams of three…”

    Many of us do, if we have a well-organized ministry of ushers that can address the distraction before it becomes prolonged.

  5. It’s definitely not just you! It’s kind of weird how often this happens. On Easter Sunday we had a record crowd at our church, including some people who had come in response to an outreach event we had the day before. Of all the days for the fire alarm to go off in the middle of the sermon….

  6. When the distractions cease to be is the time you need to be wary of complacency. The enemy has nothing to do if the Spirit isn’t there and people are NOT responsive.

  7. “the spiritual war we are in when it comes to the souls of men and women who are not in Christ” … what is this “spiritual war”? I did not realize anyone was at war over my silly little old soul!

  8. Here are some possibilities that immediately come to mind:

    If random things happen during the message of the sermon (cars honking, babies crying,..):

    This might be perceptive hypersensitivity on the part of the minister. During the most important part of your sermon, you are more likely to be more aware of every possible small distraction than you would be during a less important part.

    You are paying attention to how receptive people are to your message. This is the punch line. The meat. The reason why you are here today. And during this part of the sermon, you are probably going to be more aware of things you might normally ignore.

    If the people seem distracted/disinterested:

    One of the greatest problems I see with the approach of the modern Christian ministry is that it tends to assume, as the Bible rightly did when it was written, that most people aren’t Christians and haven’t heard the Christian message. The problem with this assumption is that it has been 2000 years since then and, in reality, most people in the US actually are Christians and almost all of them have heard the message since they were toddlers.

    Suffice to say, that when you preach a sermon to someone on the pretense that they have never heard what you are going to say (and in reality they actually have), the are going to be a little disinterested. Most people have heard the same old sermons every time they have attended a church all of their lives. Even if they are devout Christians, unless you come up with a new message, it isn’t likely that they are going to be able to maintain interest even if they try.

    I used to attend church every Sunday and diligently try to listen to every sermon. But by the time I was about 17 and had been attending for about 15 years, I had heard pretty much every sermon in the book. I tried to listen. I really did. I wanted to glean some kind of new spiritual wisdom from the sermon. But the reality was that, by and large, there was nothing new. It was largely just the same old set of ideas I’d heard my entire lives. And the reality was that, mentally, I had outgrown them. I needed something new.

  9. I think you hit it on the head from “it is time to intercede”.

    I know as a Mom it’s easy to be programmed by ROUTINE to begin thinking, “I’m already saved, this part doesn’t apply to me, I need the pew cleans, to begin rowsing this sleepyhead, to gather the crayons and pencils, get my Sunday School bag ready to teach Sunday School, talk to so-in-so about worship in tonight’s service…”

    Perhaps you should switch up the time you give “the call”, put it in a skit one week, a song one week, dead in the center of your message one week…etc. This may help to catch people off guard before fatigue or “fight or flight” sets in?

    Good thoughts.

  10. maybe there are no closing stages of preaching or praying. maybe there is no final moment when you are saved or not.
    maybe you just have to hold the door open and let them come in. no pushing and no trying to convince.. just letting what is be for isn’t that what god is?? where is this war? only within your own heart, in the non-acceptance you may have of how others live their lives. given that, I am being a complete hypocrite at the moment in forming a judgement at all, perhaps i thought i had something to teach but it seems that the only real lesson is for me.. and of course anyone that can relate to what I’ve just said.

  11. I would like to talk about a sermon called “hope”. Within this sermon the pastor explained the definition of hope. He explained that hope is misused in today’s society versed in a passage like: “I hope I win the lottery” or ” I hope the Red Sox win the World Series”. he explained that Hope should be examined in a way that ” I hope that the lord will help me in my daily struggles” and “we should hope that a better future comes to all the people of god.” I enjoyed this sermon. It is the only sermon I remember. Point being. Get over yourself. You never know what message will strike the hearts of your listeners. Vanity is what possesses you when you wonder if your message is heard. Vanity will destroy you if you let it. I suggest that you take yourself out of the message and let the word decide what works and what does not. Distractions mean nothing. The word means everything. Quantity is vanity, quality is everlasting.
    Lastly, I am not here to judge. This is my opinion only. You should also know that I am a passive christian who does not go to church. I simply carry the word with me in my daily life. I take with me 20 years of education in the christian faith. I feel I have “graduated” the word and take it with me in my daily life. This may bother certain members of this Blog. remember this. Doctors only require 12 years of school, and I went to 4 years of seminary.

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