7 Reasons You Need a Sermon Evaluation Team

Many of us remember our seminary preaching classes that included critique from our peers and professors. In fact, I still remember the negatives my classmates pointed out after I had preached—and I took that class almost thirty years ago! Still, I think all of us who preach regularly need to have a team that evaluates our preaching. Here’s why:

  1. None of us is a perfect preacher. We know that’s the case, but we still don’t regularly invite critique and seek improvement. We act as if we don’t need to improve much if we reject opportunities for evaluation. 
  2. We need to know whether we’re connecting with our congregations. Just because we feel good about our sermon doesn’t mean the congregation heard it as we intended. Talking with others who listen intently to our messages can tell us a lot. 
  3. We model humility by seeking input from others. Within most of our churches are staff members, small group leaders, and Bible study teachers who themselves can improve through critique. They’re more likely to get on board with the process if we pastors are leading the way. 
  4. We can only assume how others hear our sermons if we don’t ask. Sure, some may tell us how much they appreciate our preaching, but we still don’t know what others think without asking them. 
  5. Folks who don’t like our preaching are less likely to tell us. They may tell others behind our back, but they’re often reticent to be that honest with us. A sermon evaluation group that speaks with integrity can address this omission. 
  6. Few of us are so self-aware that we can fully critique our own sermons. No matter how self-aware we think we are, it’s always difficult to evaluate our own work without bias.  
  7. The Word of God is worth our intentional improvement. No matter how long we’ve preached, we can still grow in communication skills. Our gospel message is so important that all of us should want to continually improve.  

Pastors, I’m asking you to help us via your comments. Do you use a sermon evaluation team? If so, who are they? What process do you use?  

16 Comments

  • Chad Hunsberger says:

    I don’t currently use an official team however I would love to know if you or others have a form that your team uses to evaluate. If so, can you share it?

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Hi, Chad. You can find several samples by a Google search for “sermon evaluation forms.” Other readers may be willing to share their forms, too.  

  • Bill Pitcher says:

    #7 probably should ring in all our ears, as that should be the reason we’re in the pulpit. All the others should flow from it. Great material, all of it. Thanks for the all the encouragement this blog brings.

  • Rick Duncan says:

    We have a team of 5 main communicators. We each spend time filling out a sermon evaluation form each week. Then, during our weekly teaching team meeting, we spend about 30 minutes talking about what worked and what didn’t work. Your post, though, reminded me that we need to get input from people who listen and not just from the people teach. Therefore, next time I teach I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to make up 10 cards with two questions, “What was especially challenging or helpful to you about this week’s message? What’s one piece of advice you would give me to make the sermon stronger?“ I will include my email address on the slip of paper. When I greet people in the foyer, I’ll just randomly pass them out after each of the four services and ask for feedback. This way, I will hopefully get some helpful info from the congregation.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      I love this idea, Rick. Let me humbly add one suggestion. Consider this question, too: “In one sentence, what do you think was the main point of the sermon today?” It’s always interesting to see if our audience took home what we intended.

  • Ted Schroder says:

    Why have I never had a sermon evaluation team? I have never needed an official team because I have always had an unofficial sermon evaluation team. I have a wife who is always honest with me and helpful in her suggestions. I have served in congregations of outspoken members who let me know when they appreciated my message and when they have disagreed with me. I have had members who despised my preaching, who pulled out magazines to read during my sermons, and who criticized me to others and wrote me letters with their complaints. I have had members have affirmed me and encouraged me when I needed it. I am aware that the devil hates to hear the Gospel preached and will use whatever means he can to disparage me. After I have preached I am more concerned with preparing the next message than going back to worry over what I have done. I served as assistant to a great preacher, John Stott, who was ready to comment on my preaching when asked, and who received my comments on his preaching with grace. Perhaps I was privileged to have that sort of mentorship early so that I did not need the official evaluation team you commend. I am aware of the story of Joseph Parker who mounted the pulpit one Sunday to find a paper on it with one word: “Fool.” He said, “I never read anonymous letters but someone has sent me a note with no message but only their signature!” Wycliffe, when preaching to King Henry VIII said, “I know that I need to be careful in what I say because I am preaching in the presence of the King. But even more so because I am preaching in the presence of the King of Kings!” If that is so then we must be aware of whose evaluation counts.

  • Brad Ball says:

    I have used one at times and it is very helpful. Does anybody have a good sermon evaluation form that they use?

  • Mark says:

    I’m not a pastor. However, I wished that once or twice a year someone would have asked if I could understand or get anything out of the sermon. When I was growing up, I could never really understand the point of the sermon. Every Sunday was the same thing. I was told that I wasn’t trying hard enough to get something out of it. However, the old people in the church liked and must have understood the sermon and so that was the way things were. This is part of the reason why so many of Gen X and younger are just missing from churches.

  • Chris Gardner says:

    I have used and still do a formal team of students I am mentoring for preaching and leadership development. My wife and daughter are my informal team each Sunday (36 year old daughter). The greeting line after the service becomes an informal interaction with the larger body. And then our children from 3rd grade to sixth grade, who get a Bingo Card with 25 words from the sermon. If they get all the words on the card, it tells me I am connecting. If they let me know they missed things, then I recognize it was probably unclear. Kids are sharp and quite willing to let you know what they think. The website form below would not take our website http://www.metbaptist.com.

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