This is my piece of advice: Nearly all, if not all, poor sermons can be expiated if the last hymn is a doozy. I learned this by accident one Sunday in RI. The sermon was well below my standards, someone even dozed off, and most of the congregation had those "did I leave the iron on" look. But the hymn was a rousing number the congregation had not sung in a while. To my surprise as the congregation flowed out they were all smiles, humming the tune, and had nothing but great things to say about the sermon and the service.
Do not doubt the power of music! As I left I had all kinds of people thank me for my sermon, told me they were going home to read Emerson, and someone even boiled my sermon down to such a concise essence it could have been a tweet.
However, the converse of this phenomena is true as well. The best sermon can be ruined by a poor hymn following the service. I have seen happy go lucky people walk out as if I had just told them they look terrible in plaid (even though I think everyone looks good in plaid)!
Now a few more notes on this morning. Get this: nearly everyone sat up front! The first two rows were filled! And if that wasn't enough they put their best chairs in the back AND they were not filled. Historical note: the church lost her pews in Katrina, now they have rows of cushioned chairs - the last row is a row of high back, large comfy chairs. If I were a congregant I would arm wrestle for those chairs!
EpilogueSince I posted this post this morning I have had several requests concerning what rousing hymn this post refers to, so here you go, "Come and Go with Me"