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When Your Sermon is Not a Homerun

Accept your fallibility.

I hate to stumble through a phrase or tell a bad joke or fail to connect with a crowd. Last Sunday, I misspoke during my message and said “awoken” when I meant to say “awaken.” I hate doing stuff like that. As much as I hate it, my church family actually loves it. For many preachers, true or not, you are perceived to be the smartest person in the room. Telling the occasional lame duck joke or mispronouncing a biblical name is actually endearing. When we move off the need to be the smartest person in the room, perhaps, just perhaps, God will shine brighter because of our humility.

Expect the proper response. 

Our focus should be on life change because people saw Jesus, not heard from a preacher. In my life, I am trying to focus more on the response of people to the overall act of worship which has the Scriptures as its center point rather than to my witty banter. The truth is the truth no matter what. So, if your outline was not memorable and your voice cracked, it does not matter. The question we must ask is: “Did I state the truth of God’s Word and ask people to respond to it?”

Commit yourself to serving Christ and His church well.

In no way do I want to excuse myself or you from poor preparation or shoddy workmanship. When last Sunday seemed like it fell short, then do what you know must be done. Pray more diligently. Meditate on the Word with greater eagerness. Ask for the filling of the Spirit with more desperation. Seek godly counsel from pastors who have walked this road longer than you. Whatever you do, do not settle for being a poor workman before God and His Word.

Singles happen. In fact, in baseball, they are normative for any team. But they must not be satisfactory.

In our work of proclamation, we should expect the supernatural to occur in people’s lives. I want to see people radically transformed by the power of the gospel as often as possible. So, let’s go about our work with earnestness, seeking the power of the gospel for the good of all people. Swing for the fences and allow God to do His work.

Remember, sometimes you sow seeds, sometimes you water what you cannot see is already planted, and sometimes you get to do the harvesting. Whatever our role each week, savor the work of Christ done in you.  

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Philip Nation serves as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. He earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, he was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, Philip's served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter.