Saturday, March 25, 2006

Multiple Choice

Another question related to the previous post: What is the proper response to the comment, "Pastor, that was a great sermon."?

a. Thank you (Simple and clear, but seems to accept the false proposition that the goodness of the sermon was the result of the pastor's talent rather than a work of the Holy Spirit.

b. Actually I thought ending with the dwarf joke was a bit lame, but what with old lady Simpson kicking the bucket unexpectedly on Friday afternoon, I didn't have time to come up with a better conclusion. (Probably a bit too honest)

c. I'm glad it helped you hear a word from God. (Theologically correct, but also insufferably pious sounding--especially if said several times in the same morning.)

d. Other???? What do YOU say??


Songbird said...

I more often get a comment on the entire service than on the sermon, so I answer, "I'm glad you could be here." There are a few people who really talk about the sermon with me (aside from the Pulpit Kritic P.K.s), and if they say a sermon was good, I launch right into asking what engaged them. But those conversations don't usually take place while shaking hands at the door, so there is more time to unpack whatever the content was.
And that's not much help, is it?

reverendmother said...

Thank you is my default. I also will sometimes add or substitute "thank you for listening," because listening is such a gift.

If there's time (like if they go on and on, rather than a simple "good sermon), I will toss off a good-natured "Well, to God be the glory!" But only if I can do it in a breezy way, because of the potential piousness.

cheesehead said...

My homiletics professor at Semi-Famous used to have this head-tilt-to-the-right-look-demure-two-hand-clasp-say-"You're too kind" thing that she did. Trouble was, she did it to everybody.

I could never nail it, so I just go with Thank You.

Teri said...

Here in Egypt I say "thanks be to God"....because that's what everyone says. all the time. (ilhamdulillah!!)

I suspect it has become enough a part of me that I'll do it at home too. It may come out as too icky-pious, but maybe not.

Kathryn said...

I go with either "You ARE sweet" or the (ought to be self deprecating but I'm never certain it works) "Was it alright, then?"
But it only ever happens as we're in mad handshake mode at the church door, so there's little opportunity to go further, even if I knew how to.

jledmiston said...
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jledmiston said...

First: "That was a great sermon" beats "that was a nice sermon." (What does that mean exactly? Nice?)

Second: I love the "thanks for listening" idea from reverendmother. Or Teri's "ilhamdulillah" -- although somebody would think I was having a little stroke or something .

My stupid answer is something like "I'm so glad." (What a doofus.) I'm saying it while thinking, "I want to go home now".

blad said...

I too usually just go with "Thank you" or "Thank you, and thank you for being here".

If they say something along the lines of "your message really spoke to me this morning" or "You really made me think today", then I'm authentically able to say "Thank you - I appreciate your sharing that with me."

What causes me a few more pangs is when someone says " obviously put in hours of preparation..." I'm an "early Sunday morning" preparer (I don't preach every week - more like once every month). I'll have mulled over the theme and ideas for days, but I get up early (6am) Sunday morning to write my sermons. I write out the ideas in point form (ie not "verbatim"), with lots of scribbling in the margins and arrows "rearranging" thoughts, etc, and the whole process takes 2-3 hours. While this formula has proven to work for me over the 25+ years I've been preaching, I STILL feel little pangs of guilt when someone is absolutely certain that I've spent hours and hours reading scriptures and honing my sermons. I suspect some of them would be horrified to find out how I actually do it!

Revem said...

Oh blad you read my mind!!

I preached on Sunday, it was one of my better ones and pen to paper happened about 7am Sunday Morning after a week and a half of percolating in the brain. When people comment on the effort I also feel slightly fraud like.

I usually have the Thanks response. I have learnt not to apologise when someone comes up and says God really challenged I need to go away and think somemore about what you said. My automatic response use to be "Oh sorry but then well maybe sermon was meant for you this week"
Now I have more of the "It's great God spoke to you, if you need to process it further call me."

In relation to the PK, my response is usually "uhuh mmm uhuh mmmm uhuh uhuh mmmm ta" (thinking your only response is to criticise that i didn't say the colour of the booties in one of my illustrations, whatever!)

SingingOwl said...

I like RevMother's "thank you for listening..." I'm gonna steal that one! :-)