Pastors and the After-Sermon Comments

Wise words from Thabiti Anyabwile:

Perhaps the most perilous moments in a preacher’s life are those 20 minutes spent after the service greeting the people as they leave. Smiles are exchanged, hands are shaken, prayer requests are given, jokes are told, and feedback is delivered. How the preacher handles the feedback determines a great deal. Critical feedback can crush. Positive feedback can puff up. Everything from despondency to pride grows right there at the church door. Our people mean well. Their encouragements are meant to help. Even discouraging comments, when viewed properly, are often meant to strengthen. We must learn from it all and keep serving in love.

But the one thing we must not do is trust after-sermon comments as a final measure of how faithful or effective our preaching is. We don’t (or shouldn’t!) preach for an “Amen.” We don’t (or shouldn’t!) preach in the fear of man. We don’t (or shouldn’t!) begin to think those few comments (and they are few) represent the entirety of the church or the entirety of God’s work. The Master works his plan well beyond the sight of men. So we shouldn’t finally trust the comments of our people, or even our own assessments.