Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sermon Feedback

Several things have been converging to lead to this posting. First up, I've been thinking for a while about sermon feedback in churches. Occasionally someone will say something at the door - hopefully more than just "nice sermon" (I'm not aiming to be "nice"), but normally if there's any comment it's a general bland comment.

The second is the review of sermons that we have in staff meeting and one-to-one contexts. Very useful to have a discussion about structure (which is normally lacking), introductions, illustrations, applications, and how we're handling the Word of God.

Third, this week it has been the Northern Ireland Ministry Assembly (NIMA) Preaching Conference. 30 or so ministers and students gathering to hear from God's word and to each present an outline sermon for critique and feedback in a small workshop setting. Ours has been in 2 Peter, with other groups working on Daniel and Mark. My presentation is tomorrow morning, so here goes...

Fourthly, and perhaps most significantly, I've been (slowly) reading Graeme Goldsworthy's 'Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture'. A great book which I'll properly review in due course. But Goldsworthy has a helpful comment on the area of sermon feedback:

The gospel not only defines the problem and God's response to it, it should also define the Christian buzz words that we use to assess sermons and talks... In short, what is relevant is defined by the gospel; what is helpful is defined by the gospel. The first question we all need to ask is not, "Was it relevant?"; "Did I find it helpful?"; or "Were we blessed?"; but "How did the study or sermon testify to Christ and his gospel as the power of God for salvation?"

What he's saying is that faithfulness is the measure of 'success' and not anything else. Am I preaching the word of God faithfully, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ? This is our aim and purpose and standard. Conferences, books and teamwork are helpful aids to this, but let's never forget what we're doing as we preach the Scriptures.

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