Sermon preparation and delivery, while not all that’s involved with being a pastor, is a significant part of your job. It takes time and preparation every single week, and it’s one of the most visible aspects of your ministry- so it’s worth doing it well. If you’re looking to improve your preaching, there are plenty of steps you can take, like planning your sermons in advance, developing a preaching team, or using a better system for outlining and delivering your sermons.
But eventually, if you want to get better, you’re going to have to get other people to help you identify those areas for improvement. That may sound scary. After all, you could be opening yourself up to a lot of hurtful (and unhelpful) criticism if you ask your church to evaluate you! That’s not what we’re talking about here. If you have a plan for how to do it and ideas for how to listen to and evaluate the feedback you receive, you’ll be just fine.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to get feedback on your sermons that you can actually use!
Be Spiritually and Mentally Prepared
As you start this process, ask God to help you put your defenses down, to give you a humble spirit, and to remember that you’re doing this so that you can communicate the gospel more clearly. In the moment you’re receiving feedback, remember that these observations are meant to be helpful, even though it may hurt. Plan in advance to take notes so that you can evaluate the advice later, and take it easy on yourself. Growing is a process, and you don’t have to have it all figured out right now.
Watch Your Sermons
One great way to notice areas of improvement for your sermons is to do it yourself- by watching replays of your church’s live stream! Notice repeated phrases, where you stumble, and things that didn’t quite come out the way you wanted. But pay attention to the good parts, too- what did you do well? What points came across clearly and strongly? When you notice the flaws, don’t be too hard on yourself – most of the time, you’re going to be your own worst critic.
Pay Attention to Casual Feedback After the Sermon
How did people respond? Did you get a lot of questions asking for clarification, or were people drawn to a certain illustration? What did they say they learned or were inspired by? Please note, we’re not saying you should change everything about how you preach based on what one person said, but be aware of responses and common themes in the feedback. These will provide helpful clues about where you might need to improve and what you need to keep doing.
Directly Ask for Feedback on Sermons
When you ask for feedback, who you’re asking matters. Choose people you respect and trust, who care about you and want the best for you, and who will be able to give you good feedback on your presentation style, message topic (and how well you presented that topic), and strengths and weaknesses. This won’t be just anyone. Seek out pastors who are more experienced, or someone who has a lot of familiarity with public speaking and a heart for God’s Word.
If possible, assemble a sermon evaluation team- this could be your preaching team, or a group of dedicated volunteers from your church and/or teaching pastors from other churches. If you have multiple teaching pastors in your group, you can build each other up and encourage each other to get better, because iron sharpens iron.
If you want to go the extra mile, consider allowing your sermon evaluation team to see you practice the sermon you’re about to preach and give you feedback in advance. This allows you to incorporate it before you introduce the content to your church. This idea is especially helpful if you’re preaching on something controversial and are nervous about the response, or are committed to making bigger improvements in your preaching each week.
When working through your sermon with your team, it helps to ask pre-determined questions on specific areas, so that people have some guidance for their feedback. Here are some possibilities:
- What did you like about the sermon?
- What could I improve next time?
- Was my sermon cohesive?
- What do you think was the main point I was trying to make?
- Did I clearly integrate Scripture?
- What action steps did I give?
Consider Occasional Larger Surveys
This isn’t a strategy you should use every week- that would definitely mess with your head! But, if you want to hear from you congregation about how effective your sermons are, here are some great questions to ask:
- How is the preaching here helping you grow?
- What have you learned through the preaching?
- Is there anything you would change about the preaching style or topics?
Focusing on the impact of your sermons can be super helpful for helping you balance the casual feedback you’re hearing after service. It’s often easy to focus on the criticism, without hearing from people who are growing! Want to connect with other pastors and hear more sermon tips? Join The Pastor’s Circle Facebook Group, where you’ll receive encouragement and advice from people who love preaching God’s Word just as much as you do!