Four Benefits of Inviting Evaluation of Your Preaching


As a pastor, I preach at least twice every week and often receive feedback from my hearers. With thousands of words tumbling out of my mouth week after week, you might think that I’d get some bad reviews.

But it’s actually the opposite. Nearly all the feedback is positive. What should I conclude from this? That I am a pretty good preacher—perhaps an exceptional one?

It’s blissful to entertain the thought, but a little sober reflection tells me to slow down. For one thing, most church members aren’t listening so that they can offer critiques but so that they can be edified. For this I am grateful! Yet also, most members are hesitant to voice negative feelings about preaching. And if they do have critical remarks, the pastor will likely be the last one to hear about them. Finally, anyone who is deeply uncomfortable with the pastor’s preaching will usually move on to another church rather than try to change him.

All this raises the question: if a pastor cannot, and perhaps should not, rely on his own people to supply constructive feedback, where will he get it?

One way I have supplied this need is by “swapping sermons” with another pastor whose theological convictions and pastoral insights I trust. We simply send each other a recording of a recent sermon so we can listen to it and provide feedback. Though my fellow elders can be helpful sources of critique, pastors with whom I have no formal ties will feel freer to be honest with me.

In “swapping sermons” with fellow pastors, I have discovered four benefits.

1. It Reveals My Preaching Blind Spots

When other pastors give feedback on my preaching, they alert me to areas of weakness I never would have noticed. For example, I used to pride myself on being keenly aware of skeptics or non-Christians in my audience as I preached. Then one pastor pointed out that I seemed to assume everyone in the audience was already a believer. I needed his observation to help me see what I could not.

2. It Stimulates and Deepens Relationships

There is much joy that comes from fellowshipping with our beloved flocks, but some aspects of pastoring can be lonely. We often get so engrossed in our responsibilities that we overlook opportunities to engage with fellow pastors outside our church. Listening to others’ preaching and getting feedback on our own opens doors for a phone call, a pleasant chat, and even a time of hearty laughter. Sermon feedback is an excellent way to enjoy fellowship and camaraderie with fellow pastors.

3. It Encourages Us with the Preaching of Less Well-Known Preachers

I used to listen to the sermons of well-known preachers almost exclusively. I wanted to learn from their communication skills and engaging comments. There can be some value in that, but listening to sermons from my lesser-known friends has served as a powerful reminder. Their preaching is the driving force behind building the church of Christ week after week, and much of it is genuinely good.

4. It Raises the Bar of Excellence for Your Preaching

You might think that the more you preach, the better you preach. After all, doing something repeatedly—whether it’s driving a car, preparing meals, or playing the guitar—often increases your competence.

But this isn’t necessarily true. It’s more like the more you preach, the more you solidify your preaching habits, for good or for ill. So even when good habits lead to higher competence, higher competence can lead to self-confidence, and self-confidence can lead to complacency.

Inviting critique and feedback from other preachers raises the bar. It serves as a mutual reminder that what we are doing is of eternal importance, and thus deserves our best effort (2 Tim. 2:15).

Like all Christian ministry, preaching is a paradoxical task. On the one hand, we go into the pulpit knowing that no good will be done apart from God’s power. On the other hand, we go into the pulpit having done everything we can to prepare ourselves and our sermon. Paul expresses this paradox in Colossians 1:29: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” The toil is ours; the power is God’s.

Opening ourselves to the constructive input of fellow preachers is an important extension of this “toil.” We not only heighten the standards for our preaching but also cultivate accountability to proclaim Christ with our utmost dedication.

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For more on receiving sermon feedback, see:

Jonathan Threlfall

Jonathan Threlfall is the lead pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire.

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