Don’t Distract the Preacher! 8 Common Culprits

Most pastors preach or speak in a public forum 150 to 200 times a year. Many do more than that. Over time, these preachers have the ability to discern if the congregation or audience is following them or if their minds are in another world.

Preachers are also too familiar with distractions. While it’s the way of life of someone who gets in front of people to speak, it is no less annoying.

I asked a number of pastors to share with me the most frequent distractions they experience while preaching.

Here are their responses in order of frequency. I also took a representative quote from one of the respondents for each item.

1. People walking around.

“It happens every time someone walks in the service or leaves the service while I’m preaching. All heads turn to see the movement. I might as well be speaking an alien language while the person is moving. No one is paying attention to me.”

2. People talking to each other.

“It’s obvious they’re not listening to me if they are talking to each other. And it really gets me when they put their hand in front of their mouths, as if they can cover up the fact that they are talking.”

3. People looking at their watches.

“Yep, I know it’s been a bad or long sermon or both when people can’t wait to get out. The ‘watch watching’ is the key indicator.”

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources ( Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

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