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preaching article 4 Reasons to Start a Mid-Week Sermon Feedback Meeting

4 Reasons to Start a Mid-Week Sermon Feedback Meeting

based on 4 ratings
May 6, 2014
Scripture: none
(Suggest Scripture)

Pastors need feedback in order to improve their sermons. But helpful feedback on your sermon is hard to come by.

“Thank you” from our church as they shuffle out encourages us, but doesn’t tell us what we did well or why. Nor can we trust the woulda-coulda-shouldas that flood our head in the car ride home. I don’t know about you, but after preaching Sunday morning my brain operates at the intellectual level of tree bark. I shouldn’t be critiquing my sermon. I probably shouldn’t even be driving.

To fill this need for brutally honest, educated and constructive feedback, I suggest you start a mid-week sermon feedback meeting.

Every Wednesday several of us on the ministry staff at my church meet in our lead pastor’s office for what we call “Scripture and Sermon.” We spend the first 15 minutes reviewing last Sunday’s sermon: what was strong, what was unclear, where it could have been improved, etc. Over the next 30-45 minutes we dig into the upcoming sermon text together. Questions like “What does the text mean?” “How does the structure lend itself to a sermon outline?” “What is especially pertinent to our context?” “What needs to be illustrated?” guide our conversation.

In my experience, nothing has helped my sermons improve more than this weekly meeting. And I don’t even preach every week.

If you’re a lead or senior pastor, you may be thinking, “Why would I want to subject myself to the criticism of people who are less skilled and less experienced preachers than me?” I’m glad you asked. Here are four reasons.

1. To get feedback from people who know things about preaching.

When I watch sports, I appreciate the perspective of the commentators who have played the game themselves. The way they break down plays immediately after they happen is remarkable because they see things the average person doesn’t see.

The mid-week feedback meeting is like that, but for preaching. When you gather around your interns and associate pastors, you supply yourself with people who have done this before. They notice things most people miss. They can break down your sermon and tell you what was good and what was not so good.

How are you going to discover your blind spots? How are you going find out if that illustration worked or not? How are you going to learn what your strengths are?

You need people who know a thing or two about preaching to let you know.

2. To get good ideas for your next sermon.

This is the secret sauce to the Scripture and Sermon meeting. When everyone starts looking over the text and calls out what jumps out at them, you better have a pen and paper ready. One person notices the structure of the passage. Someone else mentions a parallel passage that you weren’t aware of. The next person shares an illustration that would bring one of the verses out perfectly.

Your missions pastor will tell you how this applies directly to evangelizing your neighbors. Your youth pastor will give you an anecdote from something that is current in the entertainment world. Before you know it, you’re thinking of how this stuff might impact real people. And you might even look hip while you’re impacting them.

Instead of starting from scratch, you already have more ideas for this sermon than you can even use.

3. To become a more humble pastor.

You can’t be the best preacher possible without the help of others. This should be obvious, since we learned to interpret and preach from professors and authors, and because we are dependent on scholars who write commentaries to help us with the academic part of our sermon prep. But even then we easily get prideful when we preach a good sermon.

But what happens when half of your good ideas came from your colleagues a few days ago? It makes it harder for you to get puffed up. Of course God gets the glory. But you can’t even say that you did it all on your own from a human level, because that closing illustration that really drove the message home wasn’t your idea. It was your youth pastor’s.

4. To train your team.

Although preaching every week is the best way to get better, not every church has enough preaching or teaching opportunities to go around. The Scripture and Sermon meeting provides a chance for your growing preachers—younger ministry staff, interns or missionaries on furlough—to interact with a sermon, evaluate it and consider how it could have been better. This weekly rhythm helps everyone in the room develop as preachers, not only the one who is being evaluated.

As a bonus, when your staff guys get a shot to preach (you give them Sunday morning opportunities, right?), you’ve overcome the scheduling hurdle because you have a meeting built into your calendar to give them feedback. How many times has it taken you several weeks before you got around to telling them how it went, as if either of you could even remember?

Get your meeting started

If your church has associate pastors, interns or people otherwise in ministry training, it is easiest for you to get this meeting started. Pick a time that works best for everyone and block it out on a weekly basis going forward.

If you are a solo pastor of a small church, this will obviously be more difficult. But there are options. You could meet with your elders or deacons. You could invite a few pastors around town. Or, if you’re married, you could start with your wife.

I understand that we are all busy, and getting used to a new weekly meeting takes time. But you will see the value in putting forth the effort to start a Scripture and Sermon meeting—and to keep it going—as you see the improvement in your preaching.

Eric McKiddie is a husband, father of three, and one of the pastors at College Church in Wheaton, IL. You can follow Eric on Twitter (@ericmckiddie).

Talk about it...

Roger Howell avatar
Roger Howell
0 days ago
I'm just trying to picture Peter after preaching on the Day of Pentecost turning and asking the other Apostles, "Do you think I did ok?" "Should it have been shorter, longer?" "Do you think I offended anyone?" "How can I make it better next week?" SMH!
Nathan Nielson avatar
Nathan Nielson
0 days ago
Come on Roger - are you serious? When we get to the point where we are too spiritually smug to want and welcome honest feedback from those who love us and love God - we cheat ourselves out of the wisdom of counsel (Proverbs 12:15). My feeling is that unless my entire sermon is quoting Scripture verbatim, there is a human element, therefore counsel is welcomed and needed. Again, I hope you were kidding - SMH? (Acronym for 'shake my head' or 'shaking my head.' Usually used when someone finds something so stupid, no words can do it justice. ) You might knock every sermon "out of the park" but I know I don't and value constructive feedback.
Mitchell Leonard avatar
Mitchell Leonard
0 days ago
Amen!
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
oh yea :To get good ideas for your next sermon" that is not constructive feed back... that is doing the Holy spirit' job SMH
Nathan Nielson avatar
Nathan Nielson
0 days ago
Do you use study Bible footnotes, seminary notes or professor's teachings, Bible commentaries, illustrations or stories, research of any kind? If so, how is getting life-application perspective from other Holy Spirit-filled believers any different than that? That the Holy Spirit would speak only to one person about what an entire church body needs and/or should hear seems to place a lot of trust on one person? Are you saying that no one should ever challenge the Biblical validity of any given preaching? Just curious as to how to justify that pattern of thinking? God's blessings to you!
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
Of course I am sure any solid preacher will use all the tools you have listed and I see no problem with getting life-application perspective from other Holy Spirit-filled believers, and certainly the Holly Spirit will speak to other and that is one good reason to let other preach in your church every now and then. And I would hope someone should challenge the Biblical validity of any given preaching, but that is not the same as the writer states. He is suggesting to have the people that God has placed him over (people who are less skilled and less experienced preachers) help him (To get good ideas for your next sermon.) If he would had said joint a group (convention or something) where Great minds can help him do better?cool. God bless
David Cannon avatar
David Cannon
0 days ago
Eric, I think you rightly touch on the Achilles heal of your approach right at the end. How many churches in the US have only one pastor? Far and away, the vast majority,The dynamic you suggest does not function nearly the same way with your peer groups being either your deacons or your wife, in my estimation
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
You are right, this approach is harder to implement in smaller, one-pastor churches. But I can tell you from experience, it can be successfully done. The church I attend is a small church, with an average attendance of about one hundred. We have one pastor, but in the six years he's been with us, he has trained four of us laypeople to share in the preaching ministry. He preaches about 20 to 22 weeks a year, and the rest of us rotate throughout the other weeks (by the way, it is amazing how many preaching and teaching opportunities there are to "go around" when you don't have one person monopolizing all the preaching and teaching opportunities!). And we get together once a week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday night, to do essentially what the article suggests. I have seen from experience how this weekly gathering has greatly improved all of our preaching, including the pastor's. Is it hard to follow the author's approach in a small, single-pastor church? Yes it is, very hard. But not impossible. It will require a lot of work upfront. You can't just "set it up" like you can at a multi-staff church. You're going to have to do the very hard work of training preachers (and they're there in your congregation, if you just look closely enough, I guarantee you), teaching them how to study and interpret the Scriptures for themselves and how to prepare and deliver sermons. And it's going to take time. Our pastor worked on this for about three years before he got the weekly group going. But I want to encourage you to think about it. And if you decide that God is leading you to this, I promise you that the hard work and time you invest will pay rich dividends in the end!
Sean Adams avatar
Sean Adams
0 days ago
This was a great post. Humbling...very humbling is the first thing I thought about this process. We actually do this on Tuesday Nights during our Weekly Church Meeting. I come from a Corporate background, so we call it a Retrospective. We ask 3 questions about the Sermon and Service; What went well? What went poorly? What/How could we do better? At first it was very humbling and I was very guarded, but after time, I've come to appreciate this meeting. It is very valuable and helps to keep me honest and tuned into how best to deliver what the Spirit is saying via His Word.
Antonio Enriquez avatar
Antonio Enriquez
0 days ago
I disagree. Whatever happened to being led by the Holy Spirit's influence, seeking the Lord's guidance in prayer(preferable over any man's Outlook) in serm?n preparation? I may not agree every time with our preacher's serm?n, but I allow the Holy Spirit to convict me, if there is something that I need to change or submit. This made me think of Isaiah 45:9 Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Is it not possible for the Holy Spirit to lead us through our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? You are welcome to disagree with the article, of course. But the article has nothing to do with the clay saying to the potter, "What are you making." This has to do with "teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16).
Suresh Manoharan avatar
Suresh Manoharan
0 days ago
The good Lord helps all the way...from "preparation to execution". However for upcoming , young Preachers' in the manner Aquilla and Priscilla giving a "constructive feedback" to Apollo in Ephesus after his "powerful sermon" (Acts 18:23-26), a feedback session with Senior Pastor would help. However, there is no Scriptural precedent of a young Mark fine-tuning Peter's message or a young Timothy doing the same for Paul. May be because there is an acute danger of a Younger Minister becoming proud as well (I Tim 3:6). Then do the Senior Pastors' never err? Well, the Lord is able to correct them.
Tony Bland avatar
Tony Bland
0 days ago
Brother Nielson, it is not too spiritually smug to want and welcome honest feedback from those who love us and love God, but God gave his preacher the messages. And God assigned the Holy Spirit to do the teaching. I do have one or two people that will challenge my preaching by asking me question and telling me how I might had said it more clear, but I don?t think this is what the author is saying ..oh lastly I can?t picture it either
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
"And God assigned the Holy Spirit to do the teaching." Cannot the Holy Spirit teach us, even those of us who preach, through our brothers and sisters in Christ? If not, then how do you explain Paul's instructions for "teaching and admonishing one another [including preachers, we may safely assume] in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16)?
Dav Ross avatar
Dav Ross
0 days ago
Sounds like stewardship of resources to me. I normally ask several folk each week to give me feedback, because I'm looking to do better, avoid annoying habits, teach clearly and not waste my preparation time. I never considered that I should make it formal as a way of discipling others with a developing gift. Great ideas.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.