This is my advice to pastors... It's okay to preach to a quiet room. Many pastors think that they need to elicit a certain amount of energy and response from the congregation in order to deem their sermon a success. I'm here to tell you that this is not the case.
If you are a pastor who instructs his congregation to yell "Amen" when you make a point or expects the congregation to shout out encouraging words to you while you preach, you may want to rethink that.
Time and time again I've seen pastors trying to elicit a response from the congregation, as if their lack of response is a direct negative response to his sermon (which, in many instances, is not the case). That is a dangerous thing, because such a pastor is more likely to alter his preaching style and the content of his sermons to elicit what he deems as a more positive response. In doing so, the pastor may begin compromising the word of God.
I remember when a former pastor of mine was preaching the word, and the Holy Spirit grabbed on to something the pastor said and planted it in my heart. As I sat there, trying to grasp what the Holy Spirit was doing, what He was sharing, the change He was making in me, the growth that was happening in me in that very moment... the pastor was up on stage trying to elicit an "Amen" from everyone. In that moment of silence, when the Holy Spirit may have been reaching into the heart of many others in the congregation, the pastor missed what the Spirit was doing because he was more concerned about receiving a positive response to his sermon. I gave him the "Amen" he was looking for, but that interfered with what the Holy Spirit was doing in me at the moment. I broke that silence and interrupted what the Holy Spirit was doing in me. I'm here to say I won't ever make that same mistake again, because I KNOW I robbed myself of a greater blessing.
Another reason the congregation may become unresponsive is when taking notes. I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm taking notes, I'm more concerned with getting the scripture reference right and taking down a few key words than I am about shouting anything out to the pastor.
Yet another reason is that some are having their own personal bible study with the Lord, searching for a scripture that ties in with the scripture given by the pastor. Yes, some of us do have our mini bible studies during the sermon...ha ha ha. When the Spirit is showing you something, you have to go with it or you can lose it.
This is why I say that it's okay to preach to a quiet room. Pastors, realize that when it gets quiet, it's probably the Holy Spirit at work. In trying to validate your own worth by the response you receive during your sermon, remember that it's God, not you, that everyone should be there to receive instruction from. Pray for the discernment needed to know when hearts are being changed and when it's best to just continue instead of stopping the flow to beg for a verbal pat on the back. Be confident enough to know that if you are speaking the words God gives to you, then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will drive the message home.
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