What If The People Don’t Respond To Your Sermon?

Church For Sermon DeliveryAn interesting question regarding how congregation’s celebrate a sermon came in that I want to address. The writer asked:

Trying to find help. I’m not an emotional person, but I am an emotional preacher. I call it “getting happy.” The problem I find is my congregation doesn’t get emotional or excited with me (though they tell me they like how i preach). How do I let this not get me discouraged, and is there anything i can do to get the people more excited or involved?

This question really resonates with me in that I sometimes feel the urge to push myself harder or do other things when the people do not celebrate the sermon as I normally expect. However, this mindset, I believe, is counterproductive. Let me tell you what I mean.

Different Ways To Celebrate

We must realize that not all people celebrate a sermon the same way. I remember in a Black Preaching Course back at Vanderbilt Divinity School where Dr. Brad Braxton played a sermon that he preached in an Urban Chicago African American Church. He then played a sermon he preached in a Suburban predominantly Caucasian Dallas Texas Church. He noted that when you celebrate in your sermon that the people may react differently. the urban African American Church was vocal. The Texas church demonstrated that they were feeling the message by the smiles on their faces and the body language.

There are white churches that are very vocal and some black churches that are not. And let us not even get into other ethnicities, denominations, and nationalities and the many different ways of expressing concepts such as joy, fear, hope, and love. The key is not to put them down as I see some preachers do. Don’t succumb to the temptation to attempt to change the way other folk express their joy.

Shouting Is Not The Key

The key is not to make them think they must celebrate the sermon in a particular way. The key is that you note some kind of response that demonstrates to you that they are hearing, understanding, and experiencing the truth of the message, if they are, then all is well even if no one is shouting.

To reiterate, a shout is not the point. Jumping is not the point. The point is for the people to hear, understand, and experience the truth. This experiencing the truth will look different depending on the congregation. Over time you will realize how your congregation demonstrates its experiencing of the truth. Go head on and shout…but recognize that for some folks a big broad smile is the way they celebrate the good news as demonstrated in your sermon, and that’s all right.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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13 comments on “What If The People Don’t Respond To Your Sermon?
  1. Wendell says:

    This was a great adjustment when I was a young preacher. I was so used to being received a certain way but when I would go somewhere with a more diverse crowd that didn’t express themselves the same way, it was intimidating.

    I have grown to the point that I now realize that God didn’t call us to be “hypemen” but preachers of a true gospel…no matter how it is received.

  2. PASTOR WILLIAM NEEQUAYE says:

    Shouting is ok but like you said it does not always mean the message is going down.I think it makes the whole service very exciting and prevent some members from sleeping on you the preacher.I start service very early 6:00am and neeed to keep the members warm by some spiritual exercises,shouting helps me do that.

  3. Pastor Wendell Leon Jackson, M.Div. says:

    The message well prepared and delivered; if it has been received, and people prompted to change in some positive way, it’s a success. Many people shout and don’t know what their shouting about. Ten minutes after the sermon, they couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about; much less how it has impacted their lives. Prepare a sound message and deliver it with conviction; and let the reaction of the people be up to them and God!

  4. Pastor Mike says:

    I just get joyful over the Word of God. I am a very shy person with everyone, but whether I’m preaching or just talking one on one about the Word I get loud and excited. But I always tell people, for everytime i preach to you, God has preached about twenty times to me.

  5. elder mark smith says:

    my feelings are this quite plain and simple the word is preached,the people are reached,people are edified and GOD is glorified. We must remember we are his mouth pieces on this earth and we must not forget we serve him by ministering htis great gospel. i was told by my spiritual father BISHOP G.E. PATTERSON preach a simple message that he will get the glory then you can say GOD was pleased today. when you know in your heart that you have done your best then.Heaven is celebrating with the church.

  6. Pastor Joe Howard, III says:

    I believe that you deliver a well-rounded sermon and the people response by living and not by just emotional shouting. I have preached the same sermon at two different churches and had two different responses. It’s my prayer for all of us as preachers that we continue to preach solid sermons and let God take care of the rest-that includes the response of the people.

  7. Frederick D. Harris says:

    Good comments, I also agree with the content of the text. Which is and I quote: “For the people to hear, understand, and experience the truth.” The gospel truth!!

  8. Pastor Mike says:

    I was the one who sent in the original question. I am very pleased and encouraged by the response and comments. Thank you!

  9. Rev Williamson says:

    Sometimes I am concerned when I don’t hear a lot of responses. I then wonder am I connecting with my congregation. I found that real life applications they can identify with elicits more of a response and then I know they are getting the truth. However, this changes from week to week. So there is no set pattern. It is forever a challenge.

  10. WysWoods says:

    I believe that your preaching connects when the congregation has seen you in other settings such a Bible classes and Sunday School. The small groups are such great fellowship and testimony sharing opprtunities and these are the people who support your preaching efforts. I know my amen corner and my smilers and I am blessed when these things happen.

  11. Sylvester Warsaw, Jr. says:

    The responses have been right on because although, I, know God works with the total person even through our emotions it’s not about emotionalism. Preaching is about allowing God to use us effectively to communicate to us His preached living Word to meet us where He reside and where we live our heart. If you’re preaching to get a shout then you’ve missed the point because preaching is to have an encounter with the living Lord as a body gathered in His name. People will respond to the preached unadulterated Word of God and leave more hungry and thirsty then when they came to fellowship.

  12. […] Haywood Cox II on November 19, 2010 – 11:49 amNo Comment A few posts ago, I argued that we cannot trust "shouting" or other outward manifestations of congregational interaction as a valid … was an effective one. It is simply too easy to play on emotions and get a "cheap shout" at the […]

  13. As a Pastor, I’d rather they remain quiet while I’m teaching. Sometimes it’s the loudest one’s who are not applying the word in their life. While I’m teaching the word, God is at work in those who believe. 1Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. The question is rather or not they believe it’s coming from God.

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