The Easiest and Hardest Feedback

In order to improve as a preacher it is important to get feedback.  We need more than the handshake’s and comments after the service in order to grow.  Howard Hendricks has referred to this as the Glorification of the Worm ceremony!  So we need something more constructive.  Probably not after every sermon, but certainly periodically, and from a variety of sources.  Yet there is one source of feedback we can easily overlook.  A source of feedback who is always accessible, always capable and over whose schedule you have significant influence.

The person I am speaking of is yourself.  It would be a good discipline to either listen, or even better, to watch your sermon periodically.  Maybe once a month, or once a quarter.  It is surprising how much we can benefit from self-critique.  A few ideas:

Leave it a few days before reviewing the sermon.  Let the emotions drain away first.  Let the sermon go cold.  Then listen or watch.  You will be able to listen more as a listener this way.

Watching is worth it.  Even if it is a hassle to borrow a camera, set it up, arrange for someone to run it, etc.  It is worth it.  I am convinced that many preachers would improve noticeably if they’d just watch themselves once.  Distracting mannerisms, lack of energy, missing eye contact, etc.  When you watch, you’ll know.

Don’t assume you’ll hate it.   Most people hate hearing their own voice recorded.  Most expect a self-review to be a painful experience.  Sometimes it can be.  Often you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  You’ll pick up on some elements of content, flow or delivery that can be improved.  But you will also realize the sermon wasn’t as bad as it felt, that it had strengths.  You have strengths.  God was at work.  You may find the experience more encouraging than you expected!

One thought on “The Easiest and Hardest Feedback

  1. Whenever I have wanted to tape what I thought would be great sermons ended up being just ok. Sometimes when I have struggled with certain passages up to the very last minute, my wife usually says, “Honey, that was the best sermon you ever preached!”. Not sure what the dynamics are there. I do know your advice is good. To see what the people see is healthy. Chapell does well in constantly reminding preaching is an oral medium. We are preaching to the ear; people aren’t reading a text. But people do watch our nonverbals that speak just as loud as our words. Video and audio reflection are great tools. Your prayer warriors will let you know how you did spiritually–if you ask. 🙂
    As always, thank you Peter. Your site is brings great encouragement to keep growing.

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