Saturday, 13 April 2013

Understanding Sermon Feedback

You know how it is. You've just preached the sermon of your life - or you've stood up and busked it after realising you've prepared for the wrong reading. I mean, last year I thought I was preaching on TS Eliot's "Wasteland", and then the reading was from "Biggles and the Camel Squadron." You've got to think fast when that happens.

And whenever that happens, you go and stand by the Moot House door and, as everyone says "goodbye" on the way out, they all precede it with "nice sermon, Eileen."

This is a little guide to translating the words people say after a sermon, to the actual thought they are trying to convey. I hope it will be helpful.

What they sayWhat they mean
"Nice sermon, Eileen""Nice sermon, Eileen."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""Your insights into the family life of the early Assyrians have transformed my life. I am forever in your debt."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""Your heretical views are condemning an entire generation of Beaker People to eternal torment. See you next week."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""I've been struggling to get enough sleep. You've helped"
"Nice sermon, Eileen""I'm joining the Mormons. It's all your fault."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""I only come here because I like drinking bad coffee out of a Woods Ware Beryl cup."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""Thank goodness, I stayed conscious this time. Last week I was so cold, I went into a state of hibernation."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""I'm referring you to the Spanish Inquisition."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""At least nobody actually ran out screaming this week."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""During the sermon, we've been planning the Revolution. Next week, we're going to have Ken Livingstone instead of you."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""You've never really understood the idea of Enculturation, have you? To you, it's just a nice word to throw around like post-modern confetti."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""Missed the whole thing. I was on Twitter throughout."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""I never understood a word."
"Nice sermon, Eileen""It's been a heartbreaking few months. We've struggled through my illness. Today, although I still suffer from unexpected and embarrassing burping at times of stress, I feel I've got through the worst. And I've felt strongly that God has been with me through it all.  And now, with those poorly-chosen words about Mother Julian, you have exposed the whole faith charade for what it is."
"Thanks for those thoughts on the ways we can use 1 Corinthians to inspire good inter-Church relations. I've just a few concerns that we could maybe unpack them - expand on where ecumenism may drift inter-faith, and the implications thereof? Do you have a view - maybe based on Paul's discussions with the Areopagus?""I'm so very lonely."


  1. I usually get "I enjoyed your hymns"

  2. In the past, on the grounds that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" I have frequently kept my mouth shut.

  3. In the past, on the grounds that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" I have frequently kept my mouth shut.

  4. I once had "thank you so much for preaching about Fear. Fear is the biggest obstacle to Christian faith and outreach" etc etc... Only thing is, I hadn't mentioned Fear once!


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