On any given Sunday, a pastor might say 3,500 words in a sermon.
That’s a lot of words, key points, and sermon illustrations.
On many Sundays, I would get home from church and not want to talk to anyone for a few hours. “You’ve used up all your words for the day,” my wife would joke.
The longer I’ve been a pastor, the more I’ve noticed that there are some things I think us pastors should drop altogether from our sermons.
Now I’ve been guilty of forming these sentences in the past, but I want you to learn from my mistakes.
Here are four sentences pastors should avoid.
#1 – “The Lord laid this message on my heart last night.”
We’re all for the Spirit moving, but this screams lack of preparedness.
Maybe, just maybe, you can pull this off once in a solar eclipse, but for the most part, steer clear.
The moment these words leave your mouth, people think that whatever they’re about to hear probably won’t be that great. They will think you’re winging it.
If God really spoke to you, let him speak. You don’t need to take any credit for it.
#2 – “It’s Monday…I’m exhausted.”
I know preaching the gospel can be emotionally and spiritually draining. And if you preach multiple times on a Sunday, it’s easy to be worn out.
But before you take to social media to talk about how tired you are, consider how it will sound to everyone in the church or the community.
When you complain about how exhausted you are because your Sunday was just so hard, think about what that sounds like to the full-time firefighter.
Imagine the kindergarten teacher who has to spend her week with 27 children who can’t all tie their shoes.
Or the single mom who works two to three jobs to make ends meet.
They don’t feel the spiritual weight of being a pastor…they think you just talk for a living. So if you say you’re worn out from a tough Sunday, it doesn’t look too good on our end.
#3 – “If I come visit you in the hospital, it’s bad.”
When I was pastoring a church, I made this joke. It was always good for a cheap laugh.
My job was preaching, leading, and casting vision and others in the church picked up the pastoral care ball. And on more than one occasion, I joked that “if I come to see you, it must be bad.”
I’m not suggesting you visit everyone who needs a visit or that one person should provide all the pastoral care for everyone in the church or community. But I am suggesting that you not bring your leadership structure front and center or joke about how you’re not wired to care for people.
I said those things and I now regret them.
I might as well have said “I’m too important to come see you.”
How arrogant does that sound?
All pastors, whether your gift is preaching, leading, or counseling, should operate with spiritual empathy and compassion.
For the sick, for the healthy, for the lost, for the church.
You don’t have to visit every hospital room, but you don’t have to make comments like this either.
#4 – “We’ll do anything short of sin to reach people.”
I’ve heard variations on this and I love the heart behind it. It’s a strong statement on your vision. It’s a powerful way to communicate the mission of the church.
Reaching the lost at any cost is a great rhyme, but is it true? Would you leave your family and children? Would you indiscriminately squander church resources in vain attempts?
If you want to reach the lost, you could just promote giving away $20 bills on Sunday morning. That would draw a huge crowd. That would get the lost to darken the door of your church.
But it’s probably not a wise thing to do with the church resources.
“Anything short of sin” is a bad measuring stick for your mission. Keep the sentiment but ditch the sentence for something that’s true.
So What's Next?
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?
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