If we want to improve in any skill, we must practice. This axiom is also true for preaching. If you don’t get many opportunities to preach, them you won’t be able to grow as an expositor. But there is an additional tool beyond practice that is also needed. As a matter of fact, it goes hand in hand with practice. It’s feedback. We need help with seeing our blindspots and our weaknesses in our sermons and delivery. One good place to get helpful feedback is from our church–those people that love us and want us to grow in our skills.
Now I understand that going to someone in your church and asking them to critique your preaching is a scary prospect because we are opening ourselves up to someone when we are very vulnerable. But we need the feedback if we are to get better and improve our preaching skills. So here is how you can being:
- Find two or three people you trust will be both kind and honest with you as they critique your preaching.
- If you have an idea of where you might need to improve, try working on this skill set for a month. Don;t try to change too much too fact or you will freeze up with the “paralysis of analysis” syndrome. Once you get a skill under your belt, you can move on.
- Explain to those people who are giving you feedback what they should be looking for. They need to know how to identify weakness in you beyond what they like and don’t like. It needs to be defined and measurable.
- After they give you feedback, thank them and assure them that you will take their comments into consideration and work on these things. Then do it!
I have created a simple form to give to those in a church with helpful areas for them to take notes. I would suggest that you not only explain what they are looking for, understand that they are helping you out, so don’t demand that they spend too much time distracted with the critique so that they get nothing from the message. In fact, you might want to rotate those that help you with feedback so it isn’t the same people week after week. Here are the questions I include on my form:
- Preacher’s name: _____________________
- Sermon title: _________________________
- Sermon main text: ____________________
- Date preached: _______________________
- Did the introduction lead to the main idea of the text?
- Was it interesting?
- Did it include enough background info to give context without bogging down the sermon?
- Was there a clear outline?
- Was the outlining of the sermon choppy?
- Did the preacher point us back to the text to prove his point?
- Did he stray from the text or explain it?
- Were there sufficient illustrations to make the abstract ideas concrete?
- Was there appropriate application given?
- Was the main point of the text the main point of the sermon?
- Was there doctrinal error?
- Was the explanation of the main doctrines clear?
- Was the gospel somehow included in the sermon or conclusion?
- Was this message God-centered?
- Was this message overall clear, somewhat clear, muddy, or confusing?
- Was the hearer given something to do or believe?
(The one giving feedback should be instructed to write out your outline as they heard it. This should help you evaluate how successfully you gave out the outline in regard to repetition, and clarity.)