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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You, Me and the Bible

mmweb-ymbI recently received a copy of You, Me and the Bible, a short 6-part introduction of the Bible’s central message. Aimed for introducing non-Christians to the Bible, it’s simple, clear, warm, engaging, and brief.

Tony Payne explains:

For more information about You, Me and the Bible go here.

Introducing God 2.0

Poster for Introducing God

Introducing God recently launched version 2.0 in Sydney, Australia, and is now available online at gotherefor.com.

Based on Matthias Media’s evangelistic tool Two Ways to Live, Introducing God (IG) combines Alpha-like sociology (i.e. highly relational) but with better theology (i.e. broadly Reformed).

And while Tim Keller asserts there are three ways to live (i.e. religion, irreligion, and the gospel of grace), when push comes to shove there really are just two ways. (And yes, I understand, and even agree with, the overall point he’s making.)

I’m exploring using IG in conjunction with planting a new church in Minneapolis, and am eager to explore the updated version. When I do, I’ll submit a review.

In the meantime Dominic Steele, IG’s creator, gives a good explanation of IG here.

Now Available: New City Catechism App (For Android)

Here’s a welcome addition to Droid apps that arrived with surprisingly little fanfare: Redeemer’s  New City Catechism. Unlike the iPhone version, this app also includes an unexpected bonus: Packer’s Concise Theology. It’s even seamlessly integrated with the catechism or to read as a stand alone book. Golden. And it’s all free! What a gift to the Church.

The app’s developer also released some other great apps, including Matthias Media’s popular gospel presentation Two Ways to Live and Who Will Be King, a kid-friendly version of TWTL.

Amper (the apps’ developer) only recently entered the app developing scene. From what little I know about that world, he’s off to a smashing start.

04/04/14: Regrettably, Packer’s Concise Theology is no longer included in the app. (But it’s still a great tool!)

Matthias Media’s “Gospel Convictions”

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Matthias Media, the Australian publishing ministry behind the book The Trellis and the Vine, has an excellent summary of their doctrinal stance they’ve called “Gospel Convictions,” encompassing six evangelical essentials:

  1. The truth and centrality of the Gospel of Jesus, the crucified and risen Christ.
  2. The necessity of the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit to initiate and enable repentance and faith.
  3. The assurance of salvation that belongs to those who have been justified by the blood of Jesus and sealed by his spirit.
  4. The authority and sufficiency of the God-breathed Scriptures for Gospel truth and life.
  5. The tension of Gospel-living in the world today.
  6. The urgency of Gospel-living in the world today.

Read it here. If you agree with it, please sign it (electronically) at the bottom.