As college football season approaches, ESPN and sports radio is filled with coach-speak. I love coach-speak; it is that language used by coaches that enables them to say a whole lot while saying almost nothing at all. A good example of coach-speak might look something like this, “We were really flying around at practice today, but looked a little slow at times, the quarterback competition is wide-open, I think we should have a pretty good year, but who knows, we’ll see.”
Part of what makes coach-speak so odd is that coaches are often not comfortable with media and PR. They are not public relations specialists, they are coaches. They specialize in analyzing players and making them better. Who is making you better? Specifically, who is analyzing your sermons?
About a year ago I tackled the idea of sermon evaluation on my own blog . There I shared a method for evaluation that I have found useful, but I did not tackle the question of why sermon evaluation should be done. Here are a few reasons as to why sermon critique is beneficial for all pastors:
- To maintain humility. Inviting others to honestly critique your sermons will keep you humble. Interestingly, as people share their honest critiques with me about my sermons I find that I need more improvement than I often realize.
- To remain gospel-centered. My wife once had to remind me that I was a preacher of the gospel and not an entertainer. That critique hurt, but it was important and necessary.
- To remain relevant. Yes, the gospel is always relevant, but your illustrations are not. I know of a pastor who referred to cheap flip-flops as “thongs.” The Bible he was preaching from was and continues to be relevant, but his choice of illustrations was no longer relevant and his message was lost on his congregation.
- To hear from those who are not like you. Not everyone in your church thinks the way you think. Do you use too many gym illustrations? Do little old ladies find you to be too edgy? Are you talking about your own family too much? How do teenagers hear your messages? How about soccer moms and outdoorsmen?
- To open the door for you to offer analysis to others. As a leader in your church you should be analyzing the ministries that go on within the congregation. Your willingness to receive criticism from others makes them more willing to receive it from you.
- To raise up other preachers. By inviting men who have potential to preach to evaluate your sermons, you have the opportunity to teach them about preaching. You also create an environment where others preaching in your church expect coaching as well.
- To maintain church health. Whether you love it or hate it, most church growth research suggests that as the preacher goes, so goes the church. Your preaching has a profound impact on the overall health of your church.
I’m sure there are other reasons why pastors should be open to sermon analysis, but these jumped out at me. If you have others, please feel free to share those in the comment section.
Regardless of your reasons, the question remains the same: who is analyzing your sermons? If you answered no one, then perhaps these reasons can help to convince you that there is a need. Now, get started identifying the people you can trust to help coach you up as a preacher.