It would be hard to count how many times I have said the words, “so what did you think?” to my wife following a sermon. Maybe we were in the car, maybe we had just sat down to lunch, or maybe we were still at the church. Regardless of where we were, there have been hundreds of times that I have asked for feedback regarding a sermon that I had just preached. At least, I thought I wanted her feedback.
There are many aspects of preaching that are so important and so vital to our ministry. Every time that we get up to preach we are aware of the fact that:
- There are people who hear us every week and there are people who have come for the first time who may never come back again sitting in the same room.
- There are people who are celebrating and there are people who are hurting sitting together.
- There are people who have tremendous biblical knowledge and no biblical knowledge sitting within a few feet of one another.
- No two Sundays are exactly the same.
Regardless of the text that we are preaching, each Pastor has to navigate through these factors. The complexity of these circumstances is what often has prompted me to get my wife’s feedback. But, over the years, I have found that seeking my wife’s feedback was not the only way or the best way for me to honestly evaluate my sermons.
Here are five questions that I have used to help me effectively evaluate a sermon.
1. Was the sermon true to the text I was preaching?
We want to proclaim what the Bible passage is communicating. Yet, there are times when we may be tempted to angle a particular verse to help us make a particular point that is not found in the Bible verse. When we preach for our own purposes or for our own agenda, we will always feel incomplete at the conclusion of a sermon.
2. Was the sermon true in my life?
One of the surest ways to feel insecure about the sermon that we have just preached is to try and convey a Truth from God’s Word that does not match up with the present realities of our own lives.
No one ever stands up to preach in perfection or without sin. Yet, we must also have wrestled with conviction and repentance of the Truth of God’s Word, before we share this Truth with others.
3. What was the response of the people to the sermon I was preaching?
This can be somewhat of a tricky question. Just because ten people came up to us after the sermon to tell us how good the sermon was, does not always mean that the sermon was good. Just because ten people complained about the sermon does not always mean that the sermon was bad. When it comes to verbal responses following our sermon, we have to be careful not to give either applause or criticism too much weight.
Yet, our sermons should lead to some level of response. Our sermons should lead people to affirm the Truth of God’s Word when they hear it. Our sermons should lead to seeing people who are moved and motivated to repent, pray, give, and go. Those are the responses that we should look to affirmation of the Truth that was shared.
4. What did my wife or someone else hear?
The advantage to having my wife to evaluate my sermon is that she will give it to me straight. If I ask, I don’t have to wonder what she is thinking. But, I have learned not to ask my wife “what did you think?” following a sermon. I have decided that I didn’t want to always burden her with the role of sermon evaluator since she is always listening to my sermons.
If there was something that stood to out her that needed to be addressed, she definitely will let me know. If the sermon was exceptionally good, she definitely will let me know that as well. But, I do believe that it is helpful for each of us to have a person or two people who listen to our sermons on a regular basis to provide us some feedback.
Have them answer the following questions:
A. Was there any part of the sermon that was confusing?
B. Was there any part of the sermon that was contradicting?
C. Was there any part of the sermon that did not point to the conclusion?
5. Was It Worship Unto The Lord?
I love preaching. I love preparing the sermon and the process of the sermon unfolding in my heart. Preaching a sermon is not always easy. In many ways preaching can be exhausting. Yet, over the years, I come to appreciate that preparing a sermon and delivering a sermon is something extraordinarily precious and valuable. It is an absolute expression of my love and worship of my Savior.
This question has changed the way that I think and the way that I approach the evaluation of my sermon. I want for my sermon to be such an expression of my devotion and worship that I no longer judge my sermon by the number of people who were in the room. I no longer look at the sermon as wishing that so and so would have been present to hear it. It is simply presented and preached as on offering to the Lord.