Friday, September 11, 2015

Giving Your Pastor Feedback After a Sermon...
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

“Good sermon.” “Helpful!” “Interesting.” “Awesome message.” “Thanks, Pastor!” Pastors hear these sorts of comments after sermons from time to time. Some may come more frequently than others. But if you ask most pastors who care about feeding the flock and who have literally emptied all that they have in that hour of heralding, many who approach them after sermons unknowingly do not provide helpful feedback. It’s not necessarily bad. It’s not necessarily harmful. It’s just not the most helpful. Preachers have heard the standard lines that people give on their way out of the church building when they give a brief word before heading home. Ministers have heard those.  But feedback that is more helpful and more thoughtful is what every pastor needs.

Here are a few helpful pointers in giving your shepherd helpful feedback after he has preached the Word of God to you.

1. Be specific in your feedback. Try to frame your feedback around what the message taught you, reminded you, convicted you, and how you need to change in light of the preached Word. Perhaps share one thing that you learned about God’s character, one thing that you saw of Christ & His glory in the text, and one way that the Spirit convicted you of a specific sin that you must mortify. Fight the generalization & be specific.

2. Be careful not to flatter. Don't necessarily -- and always -- tell your pastor: "Great sermon!" Be assured of this, the devil has already told him that as soon as he sits down when he's through preaching. Satan wants to puff up your pastor and flatter him so that he trusts in his eloquence and not in the Spirit to accomplish the work -- even after the proclamation is through. If it was a good sermon, tell him what helped you as your shepherd guided you into the text. Be careful not to flatter him: his eloquence, his finesse, his skills.

3. Be diligent to apply. In all honesty, the best way to encourage your pastor is just to do what God says in His Word. As your pastor preaches and makes the Word clear, walk in obedience. Perhaps it’s one month, or six months, or even one year later. You approach your pastor and carefully, prayerfully, and thoughtfully share with him how a sermon way back when really impacted you and how you specifically confessed your sin, deliberately put on righteousness, and have seen the Spirit enable you to walk in new habits in further conforming you to Christ!

4. Be periodic and intentional about loving your shepherd. Preaching is the hardest work on the planet. It is also the most weighty and serious work. Preachers will stand before Almighty God and give an account for everything that he has said from the pulpit. If that isn’t enough, he'll stand before God and give an account for how he cared for every individual soul that God mercifully entrusted to his shepherding care. Encourage your shepherd. Care for your shepherd. Love him. Pray for him. Support him. Serve him. Minister to him thoughtfully!

5. Be careful what you say and how you say it immediately following the sermon. Yes, your pastor is a merely a man. He's human. Your pastor, as a faithful herald of God, has just poured everything he's got into the faithful, clear, powerful, dependent, urgent, persuasive preaching & crying forth of God's Word. Careful with the immediate questions that begin with,  “Did you realize you mispronounced…” or “I disagree with you on this point….”  This is not to suggest that there's not a time for helpful sermon feedback. But perhaps a phone call or an email the following week with a desire to get together over coffee to open the Word and discuss further might be more appropriate and more loving for his own emotions. Additionally, be careful: after the pastor has preached a sermon, try not to ask: "so, how are you doing?" Or, "What's up?"  Your pastor, if he is a faithful spokesman for God, is exhausted, emotionally, physically, and mentally drained -- literally. He just gave birth to the sermon that he's been working on for the past week. Rather than trivial conversation, thank him for directing your mind to Scripture, your heart to Christ, your will toward joyful obedience.

Download the pdf article.


Jeff Rose said...

This article really hits home. I often find myself wanting to compliment my pastor for his timely messages, but wonder how to be impactful instead of puffy. I want him to take the compliment seriously, and not receive like Im a fan. Thank you pastor Geoff.

Jeff Rose said...

This article really hits home. I often find myself wanting to compliment my pastor for his timely messages, but wonder how to be impactful instead of puffy. I want him to take the compliment seriously, and not receive like Im a fan. Thank you pastor Geoff.

Arthur Sido said...

One would hope that elders are not so emotionally fragile that one must walk on eggshells around them after a sermon.

Kristen said...

You lost me at "preaching is the hardest job on the planet". Curious if you honestly believe that. And it's an honest question. Yes, a part of the job of a pastor is preaching but it's also important to shepherd your flock. If your flock is coming up and asking how you're doing after the sermon-- Please don't chalk it up to 'trivial conversation'. Maybe it's the first step in engaging with their pastor. After the sermon may be the only time a church member has a chance to be in a conversation with him at all, ever. It comes across as if you are discouraging that and by default, discouraging the pastor from knowing and engaging with his sheep.

Jeremy said...

One would hope the people in the congregation are willing to be sensitive to the needs of their elders because they recognize that they are human and subject to emotions. Just because someone shouldn't be sensitive doesn't mean they aren't. It also doesn't mean that people cannot care for them by being sensitive.

Josh said...

Kristen, curious why you don't see preaching as the hardest job on the planet? Not that other jobs are not hard. But declaring the Word of the Lord was often described as "a burden" from God.

It's a heavy tasks of which elders will have to give an account before God. That weighs immensely on those who rightly understand this "job". Of course, it is enjoyable much of the time but that doesn't negate its difficulty.

False teaching and preaching can put people on a pathway to hell...that's a heavy weight and bears more consequences than any decision any world leader may ever make.

Is preaching physically exhausting? Well, not like driving railroad spikes into the hard ground. But it's not an easy thing to be an accountable mouthpiece for Almighty God. It's not an easy task to speak to congregations that may be stiff-necked. It's not an easy task to prepare a faithful sermon that the Adversary and his minions labor against.

The Word of God has been fought against by hell itself since Creation came into easy can it be to be a mere mortal called of God to continue to speak what's been warred against for all time. What other job can say that? What other "profession" has been so hated by Satan? And what other laborer has been so martyred by Satan and his crew?

Is real preaching the hardest job on the planet? I believe it to be. The probably for some (not sure about you) may come in the sorts of preaching they are exposed to. With many sermons being self-help sessions that the world will gladly receive, I can see why the task is indeed easy. But that's not real preaching, not faithful preaching, not hard preaching at all.

Anonymous said...

Josh, i can't speak for Kristen, but, i think that preaching/teaching, in and of itself, is not the hardest job in the world - pastoring is. Preaching/teaching are just a couple of aspects of pastoring. Is there a lot of work put into preaching/teaching? sure. But that is not all that a pastor does and that is why pastoring is the hardest job in the world.

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