Asking for feedback on your messages can be humbling, and finding the right kind of helpful feedback can be puzzling. But Mark Messmore, the Preaching Minister at Troy Christian Church (and a Preaching Rocket member) has some insights. Here are Mark’s thoughts on finding good people to give good feedback.
I have served in church of over 1000 as well as a church of 250. I have also worked with other preachers who served in churches of all sizes; from several hundred to several dozen. I have seen and utilized many different approaches to receive valuable feedback for sermons – providing insights and perspectives that otherwise never would have been noticed.
Another staff member
Just because a staff member doesn’t preach every week, doesn’t mean they can’t offer helpful feedback and provide honest insight. Hopefully, they love Jesus, you and the church, so they are a great source of feedback. Make sure they know what you are asking for and make sure your ego is willing to take honest criticism.
Another preacher or friend
Technology. Is. Awesome. (Most of the time.) When else in history could you have a real-time face-to-faceconversation with someone on the other side of the world? Why not email Wednesday rough draft to someone you trust who can provide you with feedback? This is the method I personally use most often. Your friend from around the world might lack familiarity with your congregation, but that should not negate you from utilizing someone you have a great relationship with already.
Fellow preaching-group participant
Some of you may prefer a face-to-face interaction, which I totally understand. At my previous ministry I was involved with a half-dozen fellow preachers who would get together once or twice a month. Provided you see these others as fellow ministers and not competition, this may be a great approach for you.
Someone within the congregation
Hopefully when I ask you to name mature believers in your local fellowship, some come to mind. Hopefully you know of some upstanding people that you minister to who know the difference between a bad sermon, a good sermon and a great sermon. Why not tap into this valuable resource and ask them to give you some feedback? Perhaps you could even have a few people so that on difficult topics you could get multiple perspectives.
A representative of the topic
In a series on marriage, we looked at God’s expectations for husbands and wives in separate sermons. I’m not a woman. Never have been. Never will be. So when out of our teaching team I had the job of speaking to women, who do you think I sought out? That is right. A woman. And not only that, I wanted the message to even speak to women who were not yet married; therefore I reached out to a single woman as well to give me feedback on my manuscript. With their input I was able to more effectively communicate Biblical truth to this part of the congregation.
I do not recommend making your spouse your default sermon-reviewer. However on occasion I have asked my wife to review my manuscript and sought her feedback. I know she loves Jesus. I know she loves our church. I know she loves me. And if something is not good, I can promise you she will not be afraid to let me know.
No matter who you ask for feedback, make sure they love Jesus, love the church and love you enough to tell you if something stinks.