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Top Ten Things People Really Don’t Mean When They Say “I Enjoyed That Sermon”

10. “Thank you for challenging my prejudices, biases, and assumptions.”

9. “I didn’t like what you said but I am glad our church gives you the freedom to say it.”

8. “I’m going to spend time this week reflecting on and praying about what you said.”

7. “That sermon hurt me where I need to be hurt. Please pray that I’ll be broken where I need to be broken.”

6. “You’re right. It’s not all about me, thank God.”

5. “Please keep preaching about love, service, and sacrifice so that we’ll become a church that really practices giving ourselves away for the sake of Jesus and others.”

4. “I want to know how to take up my cross, deny myself, and follow Jesus. Please keep preaching about it so we can learn together.”

3. “I prayed all week long that the Lord would speak through you today.”

2. “I came spiritually prepared to listen to you today and I’m glad that you came spiritually prepared to preach.”

1. “I wish you had kept on preaching.”

Top Ten Things People Really Mean When They Say "I Enjoyed that Sermon"

10. “I liked that joke.”

9. “I liked your informal delivery; it was almost like you had done no preparation at all.”

8. “Thank you for affirming my preconceived notions on that subject.”

7. “I appreciate you not saying anything that had anything to do with me.”

6. “Now that’s entertainment!”

5. “Thank you for not keeping us here past noon.”

4. “I didn’t understand a word you said.”

3. “If you were a real preacher you’d give us 3 or 7 or 9 ways to do—well, something.”

2. “Just because Jesus suffered and died and said we were to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow him doesn’t mean that you have to talk about it every Sunday.”

1. “Clearly, I wasn’t listening.”

Holy Week Homiletics, Revisited

I found myself pondering several issues as I approached my Holy Week sermon preparation this year.

Issue #1: During Holy Week we are preaching the best known part of the gospel.

That means that we know that the people who come, whether they are the every Sunday worshipers or the Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday only attenders, figure that they already know what we’re going to say.

It also means that we preachers figure that we already know what we’re going to say: on Palm Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, on Maundy Thursday he washed his disciples’ feet and shared the Last Supper, on Good Friday he was crucified, and on Easter Sunday he was resurrected.

Everything else is detail, it seems.

Issue #2: As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “One’s greatest strength is also her or his greatest weakness.”

One of my strengths as a preacher, and it is one that I share with many, is the ability to look at old stories from different angles and arrive at unexpected, if not unique, obse…