Summer Newsletter Excerpt
By Lead Pastor Steve Berkenpas
Back when I was in seminary we had a preaching class where we had to preach and evaluate each other’s sermons. One key question that was on the top of all of our evaluations was: what is a one sentence summary of the message’s theme?
If we got 7 different evaluations back and they were all vastly different – it was a sign that the sermon may have had some rich information, but perhaps was trying to say too much! This type of feedback was really helpful in preparing for the next sermon assignment in the class – there were some real examples sitting in front of us of how we thought we were being so clear – but maybe lacked some of that clarity.
Other times we would say something that we thought was a minor point, but it would show up in everybody’s form as the thing that had impacted them the most. We can be surprised to hear how God was speaking to people in a different way than we had thought. These forms proved to be both challenging and encouraging for us.
Unfortunately, when we graduate and go on to serve in churches, we go for a long time without hearing any feedback on these types of questions that can be really helpful in both challenging and encouraging us for the future. So recently Pastor Ben and I requested that council send out an evaluation form to a few people every once and a while – with the purpose of it coming back to us and ensuring that we have a good avenue to hear from the church what areas we can continue to work on, and what areas have already been a blessing that we can continue to lean into.
We are excited that council is taking this on both through continuing to give us feedback directly as council – but also through inviting other particular people in the congregation to give their feedback. I just wanted to have a note in the newsletter so you won’t be as surprised if someone from council taps you on the shoulder with a sermon evaluation form (or if you see someone in your row with a clip board filling something out). I hope you can take it as an opportunity to share how you hear God speaking through us and what might help you in hearing God’s word better.
As an added benefit, I also hope that these questions are helpful in giving some parameters in how to listen to the sermon. As someone who both preaches but also listens to sermons it can be a helpful reminder of some of the different aspects that I can be listening for. I can forget the intentionality that comes in being a good listener to sermons – and filling out this form can help us as listeners as well. I hope that these forms will be a blessing for both Pastor Ben and I and for you as we use them in this upcoming year!