Walking Out of a Sermon

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
How long should one sit in a bad sermon?

Where does one draw the line and get up and walk out?

Certainly God cannot expect us to sit through bad theology....

Your thoughts?


Puritan Board Senior
I have only walked out of 2 sermons in my life (of course, I am only 20).

Both times came when the gospel was destroyed by sermon. Heresy from the pulpit means an automatic walk-out in my book.

Outside of teaching damnable heresy, I would be hard-pressed to think of something that would make me walk out (as opposed to simply approach the elder and discuss it later).

I find the best approach to be discussing it with him in a 1-on-1 fashion, then in front of the elders, then the congregation as a whole.....and the presence of heresy would be the only thing to make me immediately "call him out" in front of the church by leaving the sermon - an action that would surely be noticed.

Outside of heresy, I will give my elders the respect and honor they are due, and address my grievances with them in a humble and private manner, and hopefully have our differences resolved in that way....if not, bring the issue to the other elders for their consideration.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I've been in situations where I could not walk out of heretical sermons because of my company. Not fun.

Preachers who don't make the effort to present sermons that aren't boring in my opinion aren't trying hard to impress God's truth on men's minds and hearts!

[Edited on 6-15-2004 by Ianterrell]


Puritan Board Senior
Should elders or preachers who bore people with the Word of God be respected
Absolutely. Who would be bored with the Word of God? Someone who would ought to consider introspection...although, you may mean something different by "bore".

I have actually never walked out of a sermon that I can remember. I sat through a LOT of bad theology in college "chapels". Open Theism was acceptable and even preached at times. I couldn't walk out, though...I needed the chapel credits!

I do think a "walk out" may be acceptable if the teaching is clearly out of line with Scripture. If it's not a tangent and is the main point, then a walk out is in order. People will see and consider that what they are hearing is unsound. If the gospel is trivialized and the sermon borders on the ridiculous, that is clearly inappropriate and would also warrant a walk out, I believe. Thankfully, I don't even worry about it with my church.


Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:124f1fb3e2][i:124f1fb3e2]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:124f1fb3e2]
Should elders or preachers who bore people with the Word of God be respected? [/quote:124f1fb3e2]

1 Timothy 5:1-2: "Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity."

The older man needs to be rebuked (Paul says not to [i:124f1fb3e2]sharply[/i:124f1fb3e2] rebuke him; he does not prohibit rebuking an older man), but we are to do so as a son to a father, with all respect.



Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:06d63722ef][i:06d63722ef]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:06d63722ef]
Should elders or preachers who bore people with the Word of God be respected? [/quote:06d63722ef]

I am not sure exactly where you are going here, but I would have to say that I have found that many non-reformed people that have visited churches I have attended have found the church to be too boring. These are people who are used to lots of laughs and emotional "ploys" from their pastors, apparently clear biblical preaching isn't "catchy" enough for them.

[Edited on 6-15-2004 by sailorswife]


Puritanboard Amanuensis
If one of the deacons (bear with me now, I am SBC), to illustrate a point from [i:e3a88c11df]Purpose Driven Life[/i:e3a88c11df], comes onto the area around the pulpit wearing flippers, snorkel gear, and a wetsuit, does that warrant a walk out? Unfortunately, this scenario is true. And I almost went to a PCA church that morning:banghead:


Puritan Board Junior
[quote:2ef9362f17][i:2ef9362f17]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:2ef9362f17]
Should elders or preachers who bore people with the Word of God be respected? [/quote:2ef9362f17]

Yes, preachers and elders are to be respected, regardless of their preaching style, if they are being faithful to God's Word. They are God's appointed leaders who have been commissioned to watch over the souls of their flock.

If they are preaching anything other than the Word of God, then God will scatter their flock.

A dry monotone preacher may be hard to listen to, but the Holy Spirit can do great things through his message if we have receptive hearts.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I've walked out of a few sermons...for reasons which, at this time, escape me (...the best I can recall is that I was just fed up with what I call "the TBN factor" ; no teeth, all psychologizing, joking and entertainment in a "feel good" kind of way).

But then again, I tend to be impetuous and (I fear) a bit too hardline at times...especially regarding flippancy and lack of orderliness in church. I get really put-off by entertainment/joking and self aggrandizement and have sat through more than a few sermons using such things when I really wanted to bolt out of there.

I'm afraid that my critical nature has put me in too much of a distrusting stance against so much of the body of Christ.

Where does one draw the line and get up and walk out? ...for me it usually comes down to ..."I JUST CAN'T STAND THIS ONE MOMENT MORE -I'M OUTTA HERE!!!" I know it's not very sophisticated but that's where was at at that time.

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
When I say "bore people" I mean this:

We must be serious, earnest, and zealous in every part of our work. Our work requireth greater skill, and especially greater life and zeal than any of us bring to it. It is no small matter to stand up in the face of a congregation, and to deliver a message of salvation or damnation, as from the living God, in the name of the Redeemer. It is no easy matter to speak so plainly, that the most ignorant may understand us; and so seriously that the deadest hearts may feel us; and so convincingly, that the contradicting cavillers may be silenced. The weight of our matter condemneth coldness and sleepy dullness. We should see that we be well awakened ourselves, and our spirits in such a plight as may make us fit to awaken others. If our words be not sharpened, and pierce not as nails, they will hardly be felt by stony hearts. To speak slightly and coldly of heavenly things is nearly as bad as to say nothing of them at all. (Baxter - Reformed Pastor)


Puritan Board Freshman
I think the ultimate in stupid ploys employed by Arminians was in my SBC church from which I divided:

The pastor was preaching expositorily (rare for this to happen) from James and got to chapter 2 when he started to preach, and five minutes into the sermon someone jumped up and started to heckle the pastor. This person looked like your typical hobo off the street: clothed with ragged clothes and all his possessions in a brown paper bag.

The pastor asked him if he could preach it better, to which the poor man replied "Sure can. Got my Bible right here" and held up a tattered Bible printed on phone book quality paper. So the pastor stepped down as the entire congregation, mouths wide open, suffered this man to preach for a while until one man in the congregation stood up and said "Feel free to come over here and sit by me, but let the one who is in authority over this church preach the word of God, not you." And then the pastor stood up again and said "No, it's ok."

Of course the whole thing was a joke played on the congregation. But at least in my family, we thought it was rather inappropriate to pull something like that. Especially since it divided people so badly afterward.

Of course, there were other lovely episodes, such as the 20 ft. tall Christmas tree set up in the main santuary, a skit which consisted of a man and wife cracking rather obscene jokes about their sex life, a 10. min long video before the sermon where two men were talking and trying not to sound "gay," which evoked the heartiest laughter I've ever heard. There was also the one Sunday where the music leader said "it doesn't matter if you're Baptist, Espicopal, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, or any other denomination. Just as long as you love Jesus."

Needless to say, people stopped liking me once I became a Calvinist...:lol:

With all that said, I think there would have been huge justification in walking out of that den of error and downright heresy, had my parents not been in authority over me to stay.


Puritan Board Doctor
God Bless my grandmother but she is pentecostal and goes to http://www.thecity.org/ she is a member and so bieng the good grandson her only I go with her begrudgingly but believe it or not they have AW Pink in their bookstore Praise God their is Hope even if its on one shelf!!



Puritan Board Freshman
I have never walked out of one yet.

I was tempted to walk out of a PCUSA church during a funeral service. The family was not religious at all and the pastor, priest, reverend, or whatever they call themselves acted like he knew them each.

Unfortunately it was what I expected. A family decided to have a service done in a church that was traditional to their denom . This case Presbyterian. I dont even think they can tell you the diff between the PCA ,OPC and PCUSA. But since this person was baptized in a presbyterian church, I guess they found it a good idea to have the funeral service done in one as well.

I am betting the PCUSA decided to do it was because of their seeker sensitive style of evangelism.

It was very robotic and hinted at what I recal from my other friends funeral (RCC). They recited off the Lords Prayer a couple of times and I bet not one person there knows anything about Christ. Almost everyone seemed to know the prayer as far as the words went, but thats about it. Tradition over faith.

I was very tempted to walk out of this service . Ok it wasnt a sermon but I was still tempted to walk out.

[Edited on 6-15-2004 by A_Wild_Boar]


Puritan Board Freshman
A few weeks back I walked out of a sermon.

It was an outdoors service put on by several local churches (my church was repersented as part of the group, but we had our own serve anyways. I decided to attend the open air service one with soem freinds from the other church involved) at a annual festival we have in my part of the city.

One of my freinds I was with has unresolved issues with one of the pastors that got up to speak. Immiditly my freind requested of us that we leave for his 10 minute or so sermon and then come back afterwards. I was relucant but then he said he was going to give the hsitory of the world in 10 minutes and began "God created us to love us." So about 5 of us walked to Dairy Queen bought ice cream and then came back and listend to the other pastors.

Even though I disagreed througlhy with what he said, God created us Chiefly to glorify himself and if you don't get that all your theology will be off, I think upon turther thought that it was wrong for me to leave. I should have stayed incase he corrected himself in the sermon (I'm reading through Purpose Driven life to critic it and notice he did the exact smae thing, say at the beginning God created us to love us but then afround chapter 7 finally explain that god's chief goal in making us was to glorify himself).

So in the future I will stay for more of a person's sermon until the spirit prompts me to leave and not a freind ;)


Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I disagree here w/ Matt. Here is why.

There have been very few preachers whom I have sat below who have not in some way handled the scriptures erroneously; not in every sermon or every case. The majority are either weak in their studies and understanding or they are in the flesh. These are our brothers. We should sit contently and pray as they preach. The scriptures are powerful even under these circumstances to save-No? Is not God speaking through the donkey? Who are we to "grieve" the spirit of God? Who are we to complain against Gods spirit? Hath he not provided for the day, our daily bread?

If Calvin sat below my preaching, should he walk out? Would that encourage me? Edwards? Should he stand up in the middle of my sermon, knowing that I am not as learned and astute, and gather his belongings and shrug his shoulders and head and walk towards the exit? No! They would be better off to pray for me. Meet with me later. Educate me. I am on milk. I am not yet able to handle the meat they eat.

How do our pastors and elders rate when palced along side the apostles and leaders of the early church??? Corinth had their issues, yet Paul did not "walk out".

MY 2 cents!


Puritanboard Amanuensis
[quote:bf285bbb49][i:bf285bbb49]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:bf285bbb49]
When I say "bore people" I mean this:

(Baxter - Reformed Pastor) [/quote:bf285bbb49]

Nice quote. I probably have a different version of Baxter than you do. Instead of giving me the page number, can you give me the chapter where that quote is found?


There seems to be a strong distinction here between a bit of 'bad theology' or exegesis from the pulpit, (heard loads of that!) compared to someone spewing outright heresy and denying truth.

What about a preacher who engaged in ad hominem attacks? Would you sit through it if these were unjustified?

I agree it is hard to sit through poor preaching sometimes, especially where you can tell that the man preaching has not used in preparation any of what my old pastor calls 'the old writers'. There are modern theories of this and that which you can see that men have accepted - a couple of examples (in my humble opinion) are

1. The parables are not evangelistic, just moralistic
2. Song of Solomon is all about married life and nothing more

These have not come from the 'old writers', but from modern stuff - much of which is useful but should be read in proportion with older work (I'd say on a 1:3 ratio!)

However, poorly prepared or informed brothers are still brothers. Heretics are another matter!


Puritan Board Senior
I walked out once. In Bangkok Thailand in 1975 I attended a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, [CMA], one Lord's Day. The speaker went on and on with rubbish about how you could loose and regain your salvation. Eventually I had enough and left.
The options in Bangkok then were few. The CMA group was the only English speaking group that had a name for being evangelical. Eventually I started attending the Anglican Parish. The homilies there provided nourishment not poison.


Puritan Board Freshman
I have several stories that I can't into at this time.Let me mention something that happened at a communion service at an E.Free church.While the elements were passed around
a husband &wife singing duo were singing a ditty that went something like:"You'll be Roy Rogers.I'll be Dale Evans."(add
musical notes).I bucked on out of there.The regular pastor was on vacation.


Puritan Board Junior
I wouldn't just because I think it's rude. If I sat there to begin with, I'm staying to the end, that way I can critique it from beginning to end.

I would add this. I don't go to hear preachers I don't know anything about. Perhaps I used to. But when it comes to my "meal," I'm very particular.

We should also point out that the Spirit works through many things. It's kind of hard when the Scripture is not even brought into it, but wherever there is Scripture there is truth. And he may get many things wrong, but it's not necessarily his words that do anything in the life of the believer. Only the Spirit can convey spiritual things, therefore whatever truth comes, it comes by the Spirit, not from the preacher.

In Christ,



Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:18ce193a85][i:18ce193a85]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:18ce193a85]
I had a post, deleted it.

[Edited on 6-15-2004 by webmaster]

[Edited on 6-15-2004 by webmaster] [/quote:18ce193a85]



Puritan Board Freshman
Edit: I see that you deleted your post, Matthew. Since my post was in response to yours, I will also delete mine.


[Edited on 6-15-2004 by panicbird]


Puritan Board Senior
I am more tolerant of bad sermon from those who are not ordained then I am from those who are.
Candidates who are speaking a word of exhortation in order to test their gifts we must sometimes endure with patience; and hope the Presbyters who have charge of the congregation are doing their part in follow up with these young men.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I have sat through many terrrible sermons, in my life and haven't walked out on any. I believe the church is the church and wherever we happen to be on the Lord's day if we are with the church we are where we are supposed to be. To get up and leave during a sermon no matter how bad it may be, I think is wrong, unless it is out and out heresy that the pastor is preaching. It would be better in my opinion to go to the Pastor and show him where he is wrong. But for the sake of the unity of the church stay. Listen and teach your family why what might have been said is wrong. I have on many occasions used bad teaching from the pulpit as a springboard to teach my Family sound doctrine.
If the preacher is just boring or lifeless, I try to take notes and pay attention, so that I set a good example for my children and Improve my own teaching skills. Thats my :wr50:


Puritan Board Graduate
Great Topic!

I have set through a few bad (or horrible) sermons in my short time. I have never walked out (more on that below).

By far, the worst sermon ever was one I heard shortly after 9-11. I was in college and didn't have a car, so I was at the mercy of who ever could give me a ride to church. A couple of friends of mine went to First Baptist Church in Sacramento, and there was a beautiful Presbyterian (PCUSA) Church down the street, that I was dying to see the inside of. Well, I got my wish. The building was absolutely gorgeous. Domed ceiling, arches, very romanesque. The sermon was something else. I should have gotten up and left when I saw that two of the four "pastors" were women. That was strike one. Then, I should have gotten up and left when, during the pastoral prayer, the pastor asked that legislation then pending in Ontario (I believe) to legalize homosexual marriages would PASS. Then, I should have gotten up and left when the prayer of general confession was not actually a confession of sin, but merely a rambling about how bad it makes God feel when we sin. Then, I should have gotten up and left when the sermon (remember, this was only a few weeks after 9-11) was all about how we must ignore the terrorists, or we will only get attacked more (lie down and take it). No mention of Scripture AT ALL.

After the service, they had communion. Needless to say, I did NOT partake.

That was the last time I ever visited a church to see its architecture!

So, I didn't walk out of the service. I was single then. I'm married now (with a baby on the way). I would absolutely never subject my wife to a horrible service such as that. Since we have been married, we only attended one service that we nearly walked out of (the only reason we didn't is because we kept waiting for the sermon to get better, which never happened). I think, now that I'm married, I will be more picky about the sermons I sit through. Thankfully, I do not have to worry about this at our church here in Sacramento (praise God!), but if we were to go on vacation, or something like that, I would not hesitate to get up and leave a bad sermon.

Scot was right about encouraging the pastor, and being spiritually minded, but I would not be kind at the expense of my family.
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