Perhaps an MC will read this post. Perhaps a worship leader. Perhaps one Sunday you will not preach, but will “chair” the service (as they say in England), for a visiting speaker. I have a plea. Please, please, please be careful what you say after the sermon. Most of the time, it might be best to say nothing. There’s nothing worse than a good sermon well preached, then the moment trashed by a jovial comment or mood-breaking notice. Actually, there is something worse.
It’s worse when someone stands up after a sermon and tries to add a helpful comment. Perhaps a summary of what the speaker has said. Perhaps even an attempted exhortation in light of what the speaker has said. As someone involved in missions work I am afraid only one example is spinning in my head, but it is the example par excellence for missions speakers down through the years. Let me quote from an email I received last week:
One of my early attempts to share my passion for unreached nations took place in a small country church some years ago. I gave them my best . . . The pastor then felt it necessary to mitigate my remarks and blunt my passion for the unreached by assuring his flock, “We’re all missionaries to our neighborhoods and workplaces!” I was thoroughly deflated.
I have experienced it and I have seen it. A preacher makes a strong case for missions to the unreached from God’s Word, then all that work is undermined by a well-intentioned, but horribly misplaced comment in closing.
I’ve learned that, whenever possible, if I see a way my message could be undermined, I make plans to avoid it. If possible I will ask if I can close the service. Sometimes I’d rather not be the one to pray and wrap things up. I’m certainly not the best at it. But at least I won’t undermine the whole thing.
This happens regularly to missions messages. What other kind of message have you seen undermined by careless closure?