monday morning quarterback

It’s Monday morning, time to evaluate and grow from the sermons you delivered yesterday.  It may be hard to tell when you’ve done well, for the best sermons are like time bombs that go off later in the week.  But you can spot the bad ones right away. 

 In that regard, here are the top ten signs that should tip you off that your sermon isn’t going well.  I prepared this a couple of years ago for our seminary’s spring banquet, and, to give every faculty a speaking part, stretched it to 15. 

 Top Fifteen Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well

 15.  Your associate pastor is warming up in the bullpen.

 14.  The praise band begins playing you off the stage.

 13.  You are using PowerPoint.

 12.  When asked to read from the King James Version, you involuntarily blush every time you say the word “ass.”

 11.  The congregation is filling in the blanks of your outline before you get there.

 10.  You think the lyrics to a bluegrass song are really connecting with your audience.

 9.  When you pause for dramatic effect, several people giggle.

 8.  Your cell phone starts ringing, and you answer it.

 7.  The person signing for the deaf just pulled on mittens.

 6.  When the children are dismissed to junior church, most of their parents go, too.

 5.  Your sermon took shape over a glass of wine and volume three of Left Behind.

 4.  Your interpreter just rolled his eyes and put your last statement in quotation marks.

 3. Desperate mothers are pinching their babies.

 2.  The ushers are handing out refunds.  

 1.  You began your sermon with “Top 10 signs your sermon isn’t going well.”






42 responses to “monday morning quarterback”

  1. I assume the “wine” mentioned in #5 is really referring to the Greek word for non-fermented grape juice—the kind Jesus made, of course.

  2. Ryan

    just curious… what is wrong with PowerPoint? obviously if i have to ask, it is a bad sign, but… seriously.

  3. Jonathan Shelley


    Very funny. I needed that this morning.

  4. Dennis Herrington

    1. People line up to meet you……… before the invitation
    2. One lady shakes her head and says, “you got a lot to learn”
    3. A deacon asked what you did before you were a minister
    4. The next person asks if you’ve ever considered going back
    5. The chairman of the Pastor Search Committee moves away
    6. The rest of the committee apologizes to the church
    7. Your Mom calls to say that she can’t be there every Sunday
    8. Your children join other churches
    9. The man who’s been Deacon Chairman for 70 years resigns
    10.Other churches call your secretary to offer condolences

  5. Wow…this is precious! I’ll be using this for motivation for years to come! I couldn’t stop laughing!

  6. David T. in Fayetteville, GA

    Josh Gelatt, you’re not serious with that comment, are you?

  7. Doc B

    David T., can’t you see Josh’s tongue in his cheek?

  8. David T. in Fayetteville, GA

    Doc B, you never know.

  9. David T what’s the Greek word for non-fermented grape juice? (There isn’t one)

  10. mikewittmer

    David T.:

    Josh was probably drunk when he wrote that, so of course he is joking. Now I meant that as a joke, too, so I can see how this can be quite confusing. This is me being serious: Josh, while not a drinker himself, does not regard drinking wine to be a sin–at least a serious one (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).


    Your list came a little too easy! Sorry for whatever you have encountered.


    I have used PPT occasionally, but often I think it detracts from rather than enhances the sermon. It’s probably the Mennonite in me, but I’m sure I’m right on this one! 🙂

  11. Tim Hansel

    I have mild A.D.D. like symptoms. When someone uses Power Point, it becomes full blown.
    I lose all focus on the speaker, and I instead pay attention to the technology.

    If you are going to use power point you may as well just hand out print outs. This is true in business and in church; We come to get something real and meaningful and personal out of it.

    At Church we come for God to move us, not to see how many lines and fonts you can cram on one slide. And Certainly not for feelings created by background images to cement the message in.

    In Summary, Power Point = Bad. Getting Deeper into the Word = Very Good.

  12. Justin

    Regarding the use of PowerPoint, I wonder if this quote from Calvin relates. Granted, it is the Roman Catholic church that is in Calvin’s immediate sight, but I wonder if the principle doesn’t transfer into today…

    “Let those who would discharge aright the ministry of the gospel learn, not merely to speak and declaim, but to penetrate into the consciences of men, to make them see Christ crucified, and feel the shedding of his blood. When the Church has painters such as these, she no longer needs the dead images of wood and stone, she no longer requires pictures; both of which unquestionably, were first admitted to Christian temples when the pastors had become dumb and been converted into mere idols, or when they uttered a few words from the pulpit in such a cold and careless manner, that the power and efficacy of the ministry were utterly extinguished.”
    -John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 3:1; pages 80-81 in volume 21 of the Baker edition.)

  13. here i thought the power-point thing was just a snarky mac vs. pc thing…

    and no offense, mike, but i thought dennis’ list was funnier…

  14. Todd

    –> Your child raises his/her hand to ask a question during the sermon.
    –> The question makes good sense and you answer it.
    –> You forget where you were.
    –> Your kid reminds you.

  15. mikewittmer


    No offense taken, idiot.


    This sounds like the old Word vs. Image argument. I’m usually ready to take the Reformers side on this, and then I hear N.T. Wright’s message on the power of images and how avoiding them might be a form of Gnosticism, and I decide that they may have a place. But I certainly agree with you that Calvin would hate PPT!

  16. I use powerpoint almost every week. But I don’t think I use it the way it was described above and certainly not in the way Calvin was describing images.

    Almost all my PPT sermon slides go in this order:

    1) Title Slide (passage and possibly a background pic)
    2) Page number slide for pew Bibles
    3) Slide for my three (or four or 10 – j/k) points
    4) Slides with each point accompanied by the specific verses from whence I derive said point.
    5) Possible slide with a definition or a quote (ex. definition of a parable or quote from Calvin)
    6) Slide that says “Application” or “Lord’s Supper Meditation” as the final slide.

    Occasionally I will put up a map or a picture of something useful from the text (ex. a map of Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem or a picture of a 1st century tomb).

    I see my people look up, but only to follow along in the text and then they look back down at me. I don’t find it distracting and many have told me how helpful it is to them to both see the points in print and hear them. It simply reinforces in a secondary way what I am proclaiming from the pulpit. I see how some uses of PPT could be distracting, but I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water.

  17. One word: Hilarious…especially #8.

    If that ever happened, I’d walk out…immediately.

  18. I don’t think I’ve ever seen powerpoint used effectively. Not to say it can’t be done, but I’ve never seen it. It “boxes” the sermon, so to speak, and makes it more like an extended infomercial (but without the guy with hollywood whitened teeth and a professional stage backdrop design).

    Plus, I kind of have a rule to never put the scripture passages up on the screen. I want to teach the people how to find verses in their own bible. I’m assuming their not planning on taking the projector and screen home with them, so it goes to figure….

  19. Jonathan Shelley


    Given the intense debate about the appropriateness of PPT in sermons, will you be requiring your Sys 3 students to do a confession on the doctrine of Microsoft this semester? Perhaps we should talk with Stan Gundry about a new Counterpoints book: Four Views on Technology in the Church.

    Or maybe we should do the Obama thing and get all the parties together for a beer and a photo-op. If I’ve learned nothing else from Obama, it’s that [beer solves all problems].

    Disclaimer: My sarcasm does not necessarily reflect the views of Mike Wittmer, Zondervan, GRTS, or any sane person.

  20. Thankfully, I only use EasyWorship software for my sermon points and quotes, and not PowerPoint. So I’m off the hook!

  21. […] fifteen signs your sermon isn’t going […]

  22. […] Mike Wittmer has 15 Signs That Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well — you may disagree on #13 — as he Monday Morning Quarterbacks at the blog Don’t Stop Believing. […]

  23. […] monday morning quarterback It’s Monday morning, time to evaluate and grow from the sermons you delivered yesterday.  It may be hard to tell […] […]

  24. […] Top 15 Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well Hmmmm. […]

  25. Mike: Love the tongue-in-cheek list, how about adding “when your wife starts snoring”.

    Regarding use of powerpoint, let me jump in to add my 2-cents’ worth. Being a youth pastor, and youths being my main target audience, I frequently use powerpoint, in fact, all the time. Not only do I use powerpoint, but I incorporate videos, music clips, interesting pictures, articles, cartoons, captions, etc.

    On occasion when I preach at our main church service, I do use powerpoint, but more sparingly, showing main points, cross-reference verses, and quotes.

    Someone once noted the power of vision in communication. Not that we do all this to please or appeal to the crowds, but rather staying relevant, and understanding the different learning styles, especially when younger generations are now much more visual and multi-medium learners.

    Note Tony Siew’s blog entry on “Power-Point Preaching

  26. Tim

    I came by your site quite accidentally by a spam email from a friend. But alas, I can’t leave the ppt discussion alone.

    I love it that the Roman Catholic church and powerpoint have strong theological similarities. It would never have occurred to me! I blame it on the Doctrine of God according to Microsoft.

    Frankly, I think powerpoint should never be used in sermons because if God intended us to use powerpoint, He would have made us all born with a presenter mouse in our hands. And obvously, anything that makes ADD adults get distracted should never be used in church. This list, by the way, should include Bibles, hymn books, hardwood pews, bright lights, windows and squeaky floors.

    I can see from the comments about the use of powerpoint for presenting verses of Scripture that powerpoint is an evil that promotes at best spiritual laziness, and at worst spiritual illiteracy. It must be stopped, just like that evil of writing or printing verses on memory cards. People should learn to carry the entire bible around to turn to the page while they’re on the bus or sitting on the potty. Such spiritual attacks should never be tolerated lest we breed lazy, illiterate Christians.

    And let’s not get sucked in to that argument that powerpoint is just a tool. Microsoft created it to have a mind of its own. I know it. It’s all part of the conspiracy to kill preaching. The facts are all in Dan Brown’s next book.

    And, oh, it did occur to me that maybe the guy who preaches a boring sermon with powerpoint would likely preach a boring sermon without it. But don’t confuse me with that possibility. It’s powerpoint that’s bad.

  27. […] Top Fifteen Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well […]

  28. […] Mike Wittmer has 15 Signs That Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well — you may disagree on #13 — as he Monday Morning Quarterbacks at the blog Don’t Stop Believing. […]

  29. […] Top Fifteen Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well […]

  30. […] Signs your sermon is sucking […]

  31. Peter

    10. You think the lyrics to a bluegrass song are really connecting with your audience.

    Ha, some people would disagree. Or at least one person would..

  32. Hee hee. I’m posting this on my blog this coming Monday. Too good.

  33. Jack H


    I understand you used PowerPoint on Sunday morning. What’s up with that?

  34. mikewittmer


    Obviously, it was a horrible sermon!

  35. Jack H


    I was not there, so I suppose I will just have to “trust” your assessment.

  36. […] Came across this over at Mike Wittmer’s blog…  […]

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