Last week I wrote about the importance of stopping when you get to your sermonic destination. I just want to add an important principle. After an ideal landing is missed, extra minutes are not neutral, they are negative. Once listeners sense that you are circling and extending the sermon, good work done will begin to be undone.
I hesitate to use a sales analogy, but it’s hard to avoid. Before I get criticized for profaning the noble art of preaching with a business story, please just hear me out. Preaching is certainly not sales, but there are certain similarities.
I worked in sales for several years. I worked in retail sales, then in direct sales. I was taught in training to never over-sell. I learned in practice to never over-sell. Once the deal can be closed, it should be closed. Extra words, extra effort, extra attempts to justify the purchase are all counter-productive. When someone is ready to close a deal, close it. I still remember one sale in the freezing cold city center of Bristol, England. Actually, it wasn’t a sale. The lady had her credit card out and was ready to sign the contract, but I chose to say one more thing to reinforce her decision. She walked away, I lost that chunk of income. I over-sold.
Preaching is more complex than sales and involves a larger audience, has higher stakes and I would consider it a greater privilege. But the same truth applies. Preach the sermon, get to the destination and then stop. Don’t over-preach. Those extra minutes are not helpful, not even neutral, they are negative. Stopping matters.