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Getting the Feedback You Need

How to invite a constructive critique.

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"Nice sermon, preacher."

For most of us, that is the extent of the feedback we receive on our preaching. Yet we yearn for something more substantial: How do we come across to people? What aspects of our preaching style, delivery, organization, and biblical interpretation need to be improved to communicate the gospel more effectively?

To grow, we need honest evaluation, but how can we move beyond the haphazard, off-the-cuff "Nice sermon. Preacher" without getting ambushed by pet peeves of chronic complainers?

Creating good listeners

A number of years ago, Dr. John K. Bergland, who at the time was teaching at Duke Divinity School, conducted scores of interviews with people in rural North Carolina United Methodist Churches, asking them to evaluate their preachers' sermons. Bergland discovered that these laypeople were extremely reluctant to criticize a pastor's preaching. They assumed, apparently, that since the pastor has been called by God to preach and has studied preaching to prepare for ...

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