I Just Bombed My Sermon
I just bombed my sermon. It is Sunday afternoon and I am standing on the other side of a mess of a sermon. Times like this make it hard not to get down about my place in the ministry. Old sayings spoken by wiser pastors fly through my head; “they can’t all be home runs” or “it was the message someone needed to hear.” These sayings contain truth but this truth is hard to get your heart to feel.
If you have ever given a sermon, you have felt this sense of “bombing” a sermon. It is the sense that you didn’t connect. It is the sense of not being able to articulate a concept the way you thought you could. It is the sense of having a challenge fall flat in front of the congregation. It is the sense of being judged and found wanting in your skills as a speaker and preacher. It is not a good feeling.
So what do we do when we experience it? I have thought of 4 things that help me and they just might help you.
Watch your expectations. It is easy to develop expectations that every last one of your sermons will be excellent. You should work for that and desire that, but expecting it places you in a place where you will experience disappointment. When we expect something to happen that doesn’t, it can crush us. Remembering that just because it didn’t meet your expectations doesn’t mean it had no value, is important. There is value in average sermons because God uses them to change people’s hearts and lay the groundwork for life change.
Your ministry is more than this one sermon. It is tempting to start thinking that this one sermon is really summing up your whole ministry. That is not true. Yes, your sermons are a large part of your ministry, but they are not the whole of it. The time you spend with your people; loving them and caring for them is a vital part of your ministry. The time you spend counseling is an important part of your ministry. The times you spend in discipleship and mentoring are all part of the whole of your ministry. These all should flow into one another and help one another. So take heart that one bad sermon does not discount the rest of your work.
God can use even a poor sermon. It has always amazed me how people respond to a sermon I thought was bad. There is always someone who seemed touched by it. God uses even our poor sermons to reach people and teach them the truth and how to respond. We have to be careful that we don’t just listen to those “foyer comments” without also getting constructive feedback as well. Comments made in the foyer of a church to a pastor who just stumbled through a sermon will always be charitable. But when you filter out those who are just being nice it can be amazing to see God still using a less than great sermon for His purposes.
It is not about you! Take heart, my fellow pastor. It is not about you and your skill. It is not about how well you exegete the text. It is not about how well you connect to the congregation. It is not about how well your illustrations shed light on the text. It is not about you. All these things are important and we should work hard at them, but they are not what changes lives and hearts. Only God can do that. It is about God and His Word being spoken. It is about God and His praises being sung. It is about God and His truth being expounded. It is about God.
You just bombed a sermon. It is not the end of the world or the end of your ministry. Let God pick you back up and get back to work. For you have more to give, brother.
Adam is the lead pastor at River Valley Community Church in Fort Smith, AR. He graduated from Denver Seminar in 2009 with his M.Div. Adam is married to Kacee, and they have two kids, Titus and Jillian.