4 ways to know the sermon is about to end.

I sometimes feel I am a grace filled person until someone takes a long time to get off a plane. After a long flight, there are few things as annoying as the guy that takes 10 minutes slowly getting his stuff together.

Got my peanuts. Got my free copy of Sky Mall. Got my pens.

On and on.

I feel like saying, “We just descended 30,000 feet. Didn’t that tip you off that we were about to land?”

But I don’t because that is frowned upon.

Although I can’t speed exits on planes along, I can give you a heads up on when a sermon is about to end.

There are 4 signs the sermon is almost over.

1. Musicians start materializing on the edge of the stage.
Always look for a slightly anxious worship leader with an acoustic guitar trying to come back on stage. That’s a dead giveaway that the sermon is about to end.

2. In closing.
If a pastor says this phrase, they are legally required to end the sermon within 3 minutes. Pretty sure that’s in the Bible.

3. As we’re wrapping up.
Maybe the easiest end of sermon sign ever. If you miss this one, you are crazy.

4. Ushers start stretching.
If your church does offering after the sermon, I have some thoughts on this approach, it’s a sure sign things are about to end. Look for an usher doing leg lunges to loosen up muscles that got tight during the sermon.

If any of these things happen, get your stuff together. Zip up that fanny pack cover you’ve got on your Bible, stack your communion cup with the rest of your row, and get moving. We got Sunday lunch to get to!

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  1. says

    Haha. In some of the churches I have visited, the phrases “I would like to end with this final thought…” and “And finally…” are dangled in front of us and leave us hoping. But we end up waiting for another 20 minutes or so.

    • Harry says

      Same here – my pastor says that and we all look at each other knowingly that it’ll last another 10 minutes. He must not have read that part of the Bible. You know, the part we all gloss over when it applies to us…supposedly.

      • says

        Hahaha. That has SO happened in our church! Then he (the worship leader) just starts to strum the guitar delicately and helps give emphasis on the “final words”. But it is so funny when he keeps strumming for 15 mins. and then looks around helplessly. :-)

      • Larksilver says

        I have been that music leader! Nothing like moving back to the piano or collecting my hymnal and stepping to the side of the dais to lead the final hymn only to have to find a spot to gracefully try to sit and not make it obvious that the pastor totally babbled on for 15 more minutes!

  2. Thea says

    When you see me pull my mike back over my ear, shift the edge of the pew and stick my finger in my worship binder on the invitation page, that’s how you know. I think I’ve gotten my pastor pretty well trained to give me the “I’m almost done” cue. Little rocky at times. I think I need more treats.

  3. The_Other_Tom says

    I’m glad you’re back Jon.*

    *This is not a sign of the end of the Sunday message. I’m just glad that SLC is up and running.

  4. says

    You can watch for the preacher’s wife also. If he has been preaching very long, she has stopped staring lovingly at him for all 90 minutes of his sermon and has begun to give subtle motions that it is time for him to end. Watch her, and learn her cues. Maybe you can participate in the closing ceremonies as well.

  5. says

    There’s also a rustling sound.

    as the bibles are closed, the bulletins are gathered…

    it’s like the OPPOSITE of the rustling wind sound the holy spirit makes…

  6. Abby says

    You forgot “Watch the Pastor’s wife.” She’s already heard the sermon once or twice, she knows when he’s close to the end. Or, she’s making hand gestures to remind her husband about the plans they have for lunch.

  7. Dee Armse says

    I think I tend to be a little more anxious when I hear the prayer that begins with an introduction, contains 3 points and includes the words, “in conclusion”.

  8. Jonathan Greenhill says

    In the church I grew up in, a good chunk of members left their watch alarms on at noon. It didn’t matter where we were in the sermon, at noon a chorus of church alarms would go off and the pastor would start to wrap up. It was Pavlovian-ish.

  9. says

    When I was a kid, sermons were torture. I couldn’t tell you a word my old school preacher ever said, but as soon as he started yelling, I knew it was almost time to go home.

  10. says

    My young pastor starts nervously glancing at the clock on the back wall. I don’t know what we did to intimidate him to this extent, but since I can’t turn around and look at the clock myself, I appreciate his helpful “tell.”

  11. Lacey says

    Or when they begin to start most of their sentences addressing you as “Friends.” Usually this is towards the end as they become more serious about their appeal.

  12. Justin Massey says

    5. When the Deacons start pointing at their watch.
    6. When you smell chicken cooking (Yes, I am Baptist).
    7. When the preacher grabs his Bible, puts it under his arm, and walks off stage.

    • Lyn says

      yup. ours comes from behind the pulpit and stands in the front of the center aisle, like he’s waiting for the bride to show up.

  13. says

    Two and three are more of an early warning system. Kinda like the last time the flight attendants pass through the cabin. Sure we are going to land soon, but we may get a call from the tower to circle for a bit.

  14. Luke says

    As an aspiring preacher… phrase repetition is a big hint.

    When the sentences all start with the same few words.
    When the sentences have a pause in between them, or even after those starting words
    When the sentences try to hit a bunch of people in a bunch of different places.
    When there is a second repetitive phrase.

    Then you know the sermon is closing.
    Then you know the band is coming up.
    The you know it is time to pray.
    Then you know you will soon be home.

    Let’s pray.

  15. Mel says

    one of our pastors breaks mid phrase and says “the band can come up now“ and then finishes his phrase. Unfortunately like many other clues mentioned here, in invariably goes on for another ten minutes, leaving the entire worship band standing awkwardly around him.

  16. Side Hug King says

    I had a Pastor that would say, “This is the sermon right here.” He’d bring it all together, and then it was over.

  17. Laura says

    My pastor seems to get to a great conclusion–makes sense to me anyway—-and then, bam! He’s off for another 15-20 minutes. I have to admit I usually like the second ending way better. Always wonder why he didn’t use that one first.

  18. Mark says

    Sermons ending when…quiet, emotional background music starts playing. No-one can disagree with the preachers concluding words when the keyboard guy shows up.

  19. Ben Damron says

    My favorite trick is the “mini-sermon” wrapped in prayer. ‘let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes so I can say things without you being distracted.” Which only inhibits a quick getaway as half of the congregation has to wake up and readjust to the lighting before departure. It’s a great time to get your quite time in though…. if you’re a good Christian, that is.

  20. Steph says

    One I’ve noticed at my church, is the pastor will step over to the side of the podium and then lean against it in a more casual fashion.

  21. ELayne says

    At my church in Scotland at the very end of the service, after the final prayer and the final song, we always stand up and say 2 Corinthians 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen”
    Then everyone sits back down for about 20 seconds, and then stands back up and leaves… it’s the weirdest thing… I don’t understand it… it’s like every Sunday after we say the verse together everyone thinks there MIGHT be more, so they sit, and wait, but after 20 -30 seconds they decide “Oh, the sermon must be over” and then they get up and go to the multipurpose room for tea and biscuits.
    Well guess who is always first in line for tea and biscuits… ME! Because I don’t sit down anymore. I’m not tricked into thinking the sermon isn’t over. After I read the verse I stay standing, then walk out of the sanctuary to get my tea.

  22. Matt C. says

    As a kid who grew up in church and now working full time as a youth minister these are all true. My current Sr. Minister hates it when people start packing up their stuff while he is still talking. To combat this he will occasionally put in a fake “fill in the blank” point in the bulletin sermon notes so that people will think he still has one more point to make and won’t start packing up. He’s done it a few times now and no one has commented on it.

  23. TheLightingChick says

    Around here, there’s a countdown clock. When it hits 1 minute, you know there are only 6-9 minutes of sermon left. If you can’t see the clock, watch the crowd. People always start sneaking out about 10 minutes before service is supposed to end.


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