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More Things To Stop Saying
By Roger Hernandez
This is part two of our series on things we should stop saying from the pulpit. The more time I spend in churches, the more these things seem to get said. I hope that this list of things that need to get modified, erased, or deleted brings a smile to your face, happiness to your week, and joy to your heart. Any similarity with the church you attend is simply coincidental.
This Will be Short: Whether an announcement or a devotional thought, this is hardly ever the case. “Short announcement” is an oxymoron. When someone shows up to your event/program/worship service asking if they “can make a short announcement” look at them, tell them to hold on for a minute and run away. You can always ask for forgiveness later.

In Conclusion: Preaching a sermon is like flying a plane. The conclusion of the sermon is like landing a plane. You know what happens when you fly a plane in circles and do not land? It crashes and burns. Hence the smoke smell you perceive in your clothes after you preach. You know who you are. Land the plane!

As Far as Possible, Kneel: This one I heard this week from a colleague at the Union, it’s one of his pet peeves with worship. He says: “I did not know you could go past the floor. What do you mean as far as possible?”

To Make a Long Story Short: Too late. Usually by the time that statement is made, the story is already long. This is especially disturbing when it’s the fifth time you have heard that story. Spouses, I feel your pain.

Will the Visitors Please Stand? You Are the Flowers of our Church: This phrase contains three crucial mistakes –
  • Visitors. A better word is guest.
  • Stand. No one likes that. Proven by data, surveys, science. No one.
  • Flowers: Imagine a church with members from Mexico (or any other country). This one guy shows up as a guest with the belt, the hat and the boots. A man’s man. A macho man. He was a recognized from the front. He was called a flower. He never returned.
This is the Part of the Service We Can all Participate: This is usually done when tithe and offering time comes. My question is this – what are we doing exactly in the other part of the service? Are we invisible people? Does all the singing, praying and pretending we are paying attention to announcements not considered “participating?” Worship is a verb. Not a spectator sport. This phrase sends the wrong message.

One more announcement: This one is usually done after the service is over. The appeal has been done. The last song has been sung. The 3 hours for a Hispanic church (5 if you are an African American Church, 1 if you are Anglo congregation) are over. Your stomach is growling. Your kids are restless and your spouse is in a hurry. But, alas, it’s not over. It’s not over because you, dear ministry director have to take another 10 minutes in a short announcement that is already in the bulletin, has been announced already and it’s for an event I am not even going to go to. Please, no more. Its takes away from my worship experience. Let me go home inspired not wishing I expired.

Start the Track Over, Please: This is how this one goes down. It starts by the singer hitting the mic to see if it’s on. Followed by the track not starting. Followed by a dirty look. Followed by the track starting in the middle of the song. Followed by the singer asking the sound system operator to start the track. Followed by a rendition of a song that should not have been sung in the first place. Followed by “amens” that make you say, “huh?”

Let Me Tell You a Story Before I Sing: I don’t mind a short introduction. I do mind a sermon. If you want to preach, preach. But we are here to hear you sing. So, please sing.

And That Person Was Me: This usually happens with spectacular testimonies that wait to the end to reveal that the person telling the testimony was the centerpiece of the story. My aversion to this practice has more to do with my personal distaste of testimonies that glorify the past sinful lifestyle and minimize the time now spent with Jesus. The real heroes of the church are not the ones that left, played around and came back, but the ones who never left. Those are my role models.

Roger Hernandez is ministerial director for the Southern Union Conference. You can follow his blog at Lead Southern Union Ministerial