Tips and Tools for Evaluating Sermons (For Pastors and Everyone Else)

Critiquing your (or your pastor’s) preaching could take a bad turn in a hurry. But does this possibility mean sermon evaluation shouldn’t happen?

Here are some questions, followed by a simple tool, to point you in the right direction.

If you’re a pastor:

  • Do you know how to evaluate if you preached a good sermon?
  • Does anyone regularly critique your preaching?
  • Does the thought of someone critiquing your preaching seem wrong or make you uncomfortable?

If you’re not a pastor:

  • How do you know if your pastor preached a good sermon?
  • What makes a sermon good or bad?
  • Is God speaking through your pastor’s preaching, or do your pastor’s personality, communication skills and other giftings make it hard to tell the difference?

For answers to these questions, and how to be a better preacher, read Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake. It includes a helpful appendix containing a simple yet effective sermon evaluation form in PDF format.

So how might you best use the sermon evaluation form?

Pastors:

  • Elders/Leaders—Regularly give the evaluation form to the elders and other leaders in your church. Hopefully they already know how to evaluate sermons, but if not this form will help them know what to look for.
  • Leaders-in-waiting—Give the evaluation form to people in your congregation who aren’t in leadership, but may have leadership potential.
  • Ordinary People—Give the form to average, ordinary people in your church (i.e. most people!). You’ll benefit from their perspective more than you know.
  • Wife—If you’re married, please, please, please don’t give it to your wife. She doesn’t need it, and you don’t need to arm her with more artillery! Seriously, she’s not the one you should be looking to to evaluate your sermons on a regular basis. She’s your wife, not your sermon critic. Leave that job to someone else. Trust me, your marriage will be happier. (And yes, I’m well aware that Tim Keller regularly leans on his wife Kathy for sermon evaluation. But a. you’re not Tim Keller, and b. your wife isn’t Kathy. And if you’re a pastor whose wife is a great help in your sermon evaluation, I’d love to hear from you.)

If you’re not a pastor:

  • Don’t!—Don’t surprise your pastor on Sunday or Monday morning with an unsolicited sermon evaluation! Although your motives may be well and good, you’ll likely come across as judgmental and overbearing. Subsequently, don’t be surprised if your pastor seems more than a bit stand-offish. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
  • Do!—If you want to really help your pastor become a better preacher, pray for him regularly, both before, during and after the sermon. If, after spending some time praying for him and his preaching ministry, you still think you might have some valuable feedback on his preaching, first find out if there’s already an evaluation process in place. If so, offer to be a part of that process. If there isn’t an evaluation process, consider forwarding this sermon evaluation form to your elders and let them take the lead. Whatever you do, don’t go rogue on them and become The Master Sermon Evaluator™. (Again, don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

Download the sermon evaluation form here.

For more tools on how to become a better preacher, visit savingeutychus.com.

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