9 Ways to Respond after a Less than Spectacular Sermon or Lesson

Thousands of people around the world taught a small group lesson or preached a sermon today. Many went well – but some didn’t hit the target. For all of us who feel like we missed it, let these thoughts encourage you as you begin the new work week:

  1. Make sure you preached or taught the Word. Did you accurately, passionately proclaim the Word – even if your delivery seemed to fall short? If you did that, that Word won’t come back to you empty (Isa 55:11). Trust that truth. 
  2. Recognize that you’re probably harder on yourself than you need to be. Most of us are. We beat ourselves up if what we produce isn’t perfect. We fret over words we said, and we then fret over words we wished we’d said (which our hearers probably didn’t even consider). 
  3. Thank God that He uses imperfect people. If He didn’t, all of us would be unqualified for the task, anyway. Let grace overwhelm you for yesterday’s struggles.
  4. Confess your work to God if you know it really did stink. Sometimes it really is bad, and we know it because we didn’t prepare like we should have. It’s best just to be honest with God about this one and press on to do better this week. 
  5. Ask somebody you trust to give an honest review of your lesson or sermon. Maybe you didn’t do well – or perhaps you didn’t do as poorly as you think. At least take a risk to ask, just in case it’s the latter. If it’s the former, move to #6 below.
  6. Figure out where the sermon or lesson went awry. Maybe you really didn’t prepare enough. Or perhaps you prepared but didn’t pray like you should have. It could be that something unrelated happened that morning, and your mind was simply distracted as you preached or taught. Or, perhaps something else went wrong, and you were forced to rush through your teaching. Spend some time evaluating, as you can’t do better the next time unless you first figure out what went wrong this time.
  7. Intentionally work to improve whatever didn’t work. Too many of us mess up, but then only get frustrated and take no steps to improve. If your illustrations didn’t work, do some homework to find the best illustrations. If you got lost in your outline, work harder on it this week; let somebody else critique it for clarity. If you simply didn’t connect with people today, pray for wisdom to know best how to connect with your audience next week. Frustration without improvement helps nobody.
  8. Ask some prayer warriors to focus on praying for your teaching in the weeks to come. Not only do we need these folks praying for us anyway, but knowing they’re doing it also gives us reason to press on to do better. 
  9. Don’t let the enemy win. It’s easy to let one bad sermon or lesson so discourage us that we lose our joy in preparing the next week. Don’t give the enemy that victory. As long as Jesus tarries His coming, another Sunday is an opportunity for redemption. 

What else would you add to this list?    


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