Peter, who comments on the site frequently, asked what questions to use when requesting feedback on his preaching.
The challenge with getting feedback from others is that typically they are not trained in homiletics. Let me be clear, this is both a positive and a negative. But as far as pursuing feedback is concerned, you need to ask clear and answerable questions. Complicated feedback forms are the staple diet of homiletics profs, but simple questions are worth their weight in gold.
Question 1 – Given that every oral communication situation demands an inherent unity of the presenter, did the speaker effectively engage with the single proposition of the text once the text is distilled using good hermeneutical principles? Ok, just joking. This is a horrible question. Long, hard to decipher, actually only requires a single word answer, yet at the same time touches on several elements of preaching. Let’s try again:
Engaging? Did the preacher make you want to listen? How? – This is often the missing question on feedback forms I have seen. It is possible to be biblically faithful, organizationally clear and personally relevant, yet to be completely unengaging.
Biblically sound? Did you have the feeling that the preacher handled the Bible passage properly? – Might seem strange to use the word “feel” in a question on biblical accuracy, but for most listeners, that’s all they have to go by!
Clear? Was the message easy to follow? Why? – This points the listener to issues of organizational clarity, as well as allowing for comments on vocal clarity, and whether they knew where you were in the text.
Interesting? Did the passage and the message feel interesting to you? – It is a sin to bore people with the Bible, so you might as well find out if you did or not!
Connecting or Distracting? Did the preacher’s delivery help you connect or was it distracting? How? – You need to give people permission to tell you that you keep picking your ear, or moving like a robot, or shuffling your feet, etc. Furthermore you may think that your eye contact is great, but they may tell you that you’re always looking at your notes!
You may find that you need to add prompts for each question (i.e. for the last one you could add – eye contact, gestures, movement, distracting habits, etc.) But then you are heading toward one of those complicated forms that only preaching teachers can really fill in!
And if you want the most challenging feedback of all? Add this question:
Please write down the main idea of the message…