Mixed Messages

Some Sundays I hear more feedback from my sermon than others.  Ordinarily I get only positive feedback, though in this context it wouldn’t surprise me to hear negative.

Then there’s the mixed-message feedback.  Yesterday one person came up to me following the service and told me how great she thought the message was.  Then she said, “It’s always better when you preach from the scriptures.”

I graciously received her words as an affirmation.

Because as far as I know, I always preach scripturally.  This is my plan, intent, aim, and focus each and every time I preach.

In fact, I referred to specific passages in the Bible less than I usually do.  Yet her interpretation was that this time, apparently more than usual, I preached “from the Bible.”

Her response could have been from any number of things (other than the scriptural basis for my sermon, which it clearly couldn’t have been).  The congregation was more responsive than usual, and there is a real likelihood that I spoke more clearly and less theologically than I do sometimes.

Having had almost 24 hours to let it settle, the main thing I take away from the experience at this point is wondering how often I give people mixed messages.  Do I mean to say one thing, yet say another?

2 thoughts on “Mixed Messages

  1. I think we all do that, but not intentionally. We all bring our own experiences with us and sometimes certain things touch us on a different level and sometimes because of our experiences we react to things differently than others. As the preacher, we also bring our experiences – it can’t be helped. Something you said must have touched her in some way. I don’t think it is possible to come before others in a completely neutral way but you bring an interesting perspective to it. What I mean is, how much do we or should we consider others and their possible interpretations before we bring a message?

  2. Saturday we presented the vitality report to a group of leaders in the local community. In the report it mentions that having young adult programs is not a significant driver of vitality in a congregation. Not that it is unimportant, but it is not a driver. And when we are looking to a limited amount of resources and a perceived need to have programing that has more “bang for the buck” it is apparent that our local community ought to focus limited our resources in the areas that drive vitality (children and youth ministries).

    During the brainstorming session it was brought up 2 times that we need to have a college/young adult group.

    It is as though the presentation was presented in a way that did not register with these suggestions because the suggestions are actually contrary to the statistical evidence for drivers of vitality. However, these individuals continue to hear what they want to hear and articulate the same “tape” they always have said.

    It really is amazing to me that the feedback I get in different settings there is always at least one person who says something they got out of the message that is actually 100% opposite of what I was making a case for. It is as though we check into a conversation and hone in key words (like a search engine) and are not taking into consideration what is actually being said.

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