ne of our frequent commenters, Sir Aaron, posted a comment the other day which prompted some thoughts about preaching and the typical kinds of on-the-spot feedback preachers get. He wrote:
I think that's a generally sound policy. Almost every pastor I know will tell you that few things are more annoying than the guy who always wants to straighten out some fine detail in your theology right after you finish your sermon. It's invariably some incidental detail, hardly germane to the point of your sermon. But this guy can't wait to explain to you why something you said is wrong and if you only understood the meaning of the seventh toe in the image of King Nebuchadnezzar's vision your whole perception of the Bible would be opened up. This fellow never wants to discuss it during the week. But he figures the 10 minutes immediately after your closing prayer belong to him, and he wants to make the most of it.
Or there's the guy who has a novel view of sanctification. It's really just a re-tread version of some old antinomian/perfectionist scheme, but no one has ever understood it quite like him, and rather than being chastened by that fact, he is proud of it. Every week he wants to try to convince you how much better your sermon would have been if only you shared his understanding of "the crucified life," or whatever.
Somehow, a few of these people, piranha-like, usually manage to get to the front of the auditorium first. Their criticism colors your mood as you try to interact with other people. It can really be a severe trial, especially if one of the perennial critics wants to stand there and debate with you for a long time.
Having said that, however, in most cases, I don't mind it at all when people give me feedback right after a sermon, even if it's negative. (In fact, negative comments from people who aren't constantly negative are almost always helpful on one level or another.) What's frustrating about the type of people I just described is not that they disagree with something I said in the sermonit's not even that they are predictably negativebut that they clearly have an agenda or a mental defense-mechanism that keeps them from hearing the real point of the sermon and taking the preaching seriously.
I actually love it when someone raises a question or objection that shows he or she was listening carefully and with a discerning heart. If they are right, I might actually learn something. (Hey: it happens more often than you might think.) If they are correcting a fact I got wrong ("You said 'Henry James,' but you meant William James"), they might even save me some embarrassment in the second service. If I have stated something in an unclear or muddled way, it gives me an opportunity to clarify. Or, if they have a wrong belief that was challenged in my sermon, it's an opportunity to refer them to some book or other sermon that will give them a better understanding.
So I don't want to discourage people from approaching the pastor after a sermon if they disagree or don't quite understand something. Go for it.
Just don't drag it out, and don't make it your weekly habit. And if you're going to tell your pastor on the spot when you think he got something wrong, be sure that you are even more diligent to give him encouraging feedback on the spot when you benefit from his teaching (Galatians 6:6).