Why You Need to Stop Enjoying the Sermon
Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
- 2016 Feb 23
Can you think of any place in Scripture where someone compliments another on his message?
I can’t think of a one.
Nowhere, to my knowledge, in the Word does anyone say “Peter preached a powerful sermon” or “Paul’s message was well received” or “The Macedonian crowd got a lot out of Titus’ sermon on the Lord’s Day.”
Now, some in the audience did pick up rocks to throw at the preacher on more than one occasion, but those were the rabble, the wicked, the hostile outsiders and not the congregation of the faithful.
I have a suggestion.
Let’s delete from our vocabulary that inane sentence a million people utter to their preacher Sunday after Sunday as they exit the building: “I enjoyed the sermon.”
I know this is small potatoes, and compared to the real issues the Church faces today, this hardly matters. But it’s on my mind, so I decided to put it on yours.
After all, no one tells the surgeon, I enjoyed the thyroidectomy. I enjoyed the surgery. I enjoyed the Caesarean.
No one tells the mechanic, I enjoyed the tuneup on my Camry. I enjoyed the tire rotation.
No one says to the dentist, I enjoyed the root canal. I enjoyed the teeth cleaning.
Enjoyment is not the point.
We don’t go to church to enjoy it. We go to worship God, to hear from God, and to fellowship with the saints. We go to serve, to give, to love, to bless, to pray, and a hundred other good reasons.
And sometimes what we do at church is gut-wrenching. Sometimes even the best sermon is painful, preaching it is difficult, and acting on it requires everything we can summon. Nothing about it involves enjoyment.
I suggest that we say to the preacher on the way out of the building, “Thank you for preaching the Word today.” Or, simply “thank you for that sermon.”
Receiving it with gratitude is sufficient.
I thanked the doctor for the thyroidectomy in 1996 and again in 2004 when he performed surgery on my cancer.
I thanked my dentist for the root canal and a hundred other procedures.
But I have never enjoyed those things.
I thank God for my mechanic, for my dentist and his wonderful hygienists, for my E-N-T doctor and his staff, and for my banker and cleaners and pharmacists.
But at no point have I ever left their presence and said, “I enjoyed it.” They would have been taken aback by that.
But–the question arises–can’t we enjoy a great time of worship? a well-delivered message that blesses our hearts? the fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ?
Sure. In fact, we should love, love, love all those things, as we surely do when we are close to the Savior. And it’s even all right to tell the singer or the teacher or the pastor, “I enjoyed it.”
I’m only suggesting we remove “I enjoyed the sermon” from our speech as a general practice, and say something more meaningful, more appropriate, and more to the point.
“I appreciate that sermon, pastor. It really spoke to me.”
“Pastor, thank you for what was a thought-provoking message. I took some great notes and can’t wait to look up those scriptures this afternoon!”
“Preacher, I can’t say I enjoyed that sermon, but I sure did need it. Thank you.”
That sort of thing.
Publication date: February 23, 2016