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Home > 2012 > October Online Only > The 5 Comments Preachers Hate Most

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5. "The Lord told me to tell you …" "… that you look tired," "… that you hurt my feelings," "… that this church needs more messages about stewardship/missions/culture wars/the Colbert Report," "… that you chose the wrong clothes." This sentence can end in a hundred ways, none of them happy.

Preaching is a mysterious business, and in some ways it's more mysterious to me now than when I started out. Sometimes the message you wish you could put in the discard pile will be the one God uses to change someone's life. Giving a bad message can bring just the humility you need to remember that preaching—and the kingdom in general—is never subject to human management or control.

What should we aim to hear when we're done preaching? After Jesus' first sermon, people were cut to the heart, and they asked what they needed to do to be saved. That's not a bad response to pray for. It sure beats Ruga Ruga Ruga.

John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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John Ortberg is editor at large of Leadership Journal and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California.

Related Topics:CriticismPreachersPreachingTeaching
Posted: October 22, 2012

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Displaying 2–6 of 52 comments

John Breon

April 15, 2014  10:33pm

As an associate pastor, one of my duties was singles' volleyball. A man from that group came once to a Bible study I led. After the class, he said to me, "After seeing you play volleyball, I'm surprised you know so much about the Bible."

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April 15, 2014  7:18pm

I shall add another it is "You have Not".....followed by: Called me when I missed church (But you posted pictures on Facebook of you and your family enjoying the beach 3 Sundays in a row) or I missed church, but the pastor did not follow up with me (well this is your habit and beside the last 10 times I did call and got voicemail, you did not return my message and you have not responded to the last 6 invites to fellowship with us at the various gatherings we have had.

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Warren Baldwin

October 23, 2013  4:14pm

Ruga Ruga Ruga. They probably mean, "Very, very good!" I have a few insightful members who when they comment will say something like, "I appreciate the point you made about ..." They know a comment of substance is not just saying, "I liked that," but is about letting you know how the sermon resonated with their heart, mind, place in life or relationship with God.

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May 02, 2013  5:57pm

I remember one time I told a pastor that he had a good lecture.


May 02, 2013  1:57pm

One of my recent favorites, "You look younger in bright colors."

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