Here is the end of the list of ten reasons not to get too excited about the feedback you receive right after preaching. Remember what we saw in part 1. The most valuable affirmation will combine elements of time, thoughtfulness and transformation. When you get those, treasure them. Make a note. Keep a file.
When you get Sunday affirmation, be thankful, but don’t get carried away. One of these ten reasons could be the main reason for it:
8. The “trigger words” mechanism. People like to hear what they value. Let’s say you preach a very poor message – biblically weak, unclear in organisation, unengaging in presentation, irrelevant to those present – but you use an illustration that mentions someone’s pet issue, what will they say? “Preacher, that was a poor sermon, but I loved that your illustration mentioned my pet issue?” Typically not. Once those lights flash in their evaluation grid, you have become a hero! The feedback will be skewed.
9. The “Satanic test” reality. You’ve probably heard the oft-quoted statement from Spurgeon (I think), who was affirmed very favourably after preaching and responded with, “Madam, the enemy has already told me that!” Nice anecdote, but it could be true in our situation too. The enemy is not a fan of being obvious because it doesn’t tend to work so well. Better to build up a preacher so their focus shifts from dependence on Christ . . . so we need to beware on a spiritual level what post-sermon feedback does to our hearts.
10. The “exit gauntlet” logistics issue. If you are at a church where the preacher stands at the back and shakes everyone’s hand, then you have a couple of issues to face, actually, three. One, most people will feel obligated to mutter some pleasantry to get past you. Two, some people who actually want to talk to you won’t be able to because others are lining up to leave. Three, because people don’t want to hold you up, they may feel obligated to step out into a rainy car park and thus end the time of valuable fellowship in the church. Standing at the door may not be the best idea!
And there are probably some more . . . what would you add?