It’s a truism in my trade that one negative comment about the sermon can pretty much ruin your Sunday. We preachers position ourselves at a sanctuary door or in front of the chancel to greet the members of our congregation after worship, many if not most of whom tell us that they liked or enjoyed or appreciated our sermon. The rest smile and say, “Good morning.”
We all know the responses are mostly superficial, that “nice sermon” is the ecclesiastical equivalent of “have a nice day,” pleasant to hear but not reflective of any reality. Most of us are aware that it can be cloying, perhaps addictive to stand there waiting—needing, asking—to be affirmed. And we all know that one genuine negative comment can take your breath away and spoil the rest of the day.
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