Taking some prompts from Boyd-MacMillan and blending them with my own thoughts, here are a few comments to prompt our thoughts on what to do when listeners aren’t satisfied:
3. Remember that you answer to God. This is not to excuse bad preaching or oblivious ignorance of helpful critique. This is to protect us from the unhelpful attacks that may or may not have anything to do with our preaching. Obviously every sermon could have been better, but can you stand straight before God and give an account for the way you prepared in the time that you had? Did you walk through the preparation by faith and do your best as a steward of the opportunity? Our primary goal is to serve Him faithfully, not to please every nitpicker in the pew.
4. Prayerfully process feedback. This is true for praise as well as critique. Process it prayerfully. Ask what you can learn from it, and perhaps how you should pray for the source of it too (i.e. instead of getting all huffy about a personal attack, why not pray for the person who obviously has some deep hurt and tension within).
5. Remember that happy listeners may mean sermon failure. Our goal is not to make listeners happy with us. Our goal is to faithfully present, explain and apply the Bible text to their lives. What if the text convicts, or prods, or pokes, or makes downright uncomfortable? What if it shines a light in a dark place in their life and they don’t like what they see? What if their dissatisfaction toward you and your preaching is a very positive sign of the word getting through? Be careful not to misapply this, but sometimes knowing that listeners were offended by your preaching may be the best feedback that you are doing your job well. Preaching is not about presenting yourself for a popularity contest (even if some churches make it feel like that!)
I don’t want to overwhelm with words, so I’ll cut it off for now . . .