"Pastor, Your Sermons are Not Feeding Me!"
After Pastor B.D. Word preached on a Sunday morning, a member of his church, I.M. Famished, approached him. “Pastor, I have loved being here, but your sermons just aren’t feeding me. This is my last Sunday here. I am going to look for another church.” Pastor B.D. Word was shocked and hurt. He didn’t know whether to laugh nervously, get defensive, or quit the ministry. If you were Pastor Word, how would you respond?
LIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SCENARIO
- Because I received negative feedback, I must not be called to preach or teach.
- This person is just a consumer Christian and needs to learn to feed themselves.
- If someone isn’t happy, I must be doing something wrong.
- There is nothing I need to improve in my preaching or teaching style.
LIFE AND LEADERSHIP CORE VALUES TO CONSIDER
- I build a culture of feedback in my ministry that I lead by example.
- I refuse to blame those I lead for the quality of our ministry.
- I am more concerned about building people than I am concerned about building a ministry.
- I seek to listen and understand before I seek to be heard and understood.
- My response to something is almost always more important than the something.
DISCERNING WHAT IS BEING DEVELOPED IN ME
- I am learning to get my identity and self-worth from God, not the affirmation or criticism of people.
- I have the opportunity for God to grow me as a communicator of His Word.
- I get to grow to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19) when someone says something that stings.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE TAKING ACTION
- Is this an isolated incident or consistent feedback that I get?
- What do the people I trust most say about my speaking ability?
- How does God feel about this situation?
- Am I preaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)?
- Am I putting time and prayer into my messages or giving “stale” leftovers?
PRACTICAL STEPS TO CONSIDER
Make sure your sermons are an overflow from your life with God – We teach what we know. We impart who we are. We can not give what we do not have. Jack Hayford said this about preparing sermons: “If it feeds you, it will feed them.” Bill Johnson has said, “I never study to prepare a sermon. I study for me. When I teach, I am breaking off a piece of my own life and feeding them.” What are the relationships, experiences, and practices that feed your heart? If you are not encountering the Lord or having the message hit you at some point during your preparation, nobody else will either. Is your schedule or pace of life affecting your sermon preparation or your alone time with God? If so, you may need to delegate more responsibility or recruit more volunteers or staff.
Create a strategy to grow and develop as a communicator of God’s Word – There is a saying, “All Word and no Spirit, you dry up. All Spirit and no Word, you blow up. Word and Spirit together, you grow up.” Learn how to partner with the Holy Spirit to see God’s anointing change people’s lives through your messages. Also, constantly seek to improve your public speaking skills by taking classes, studying other communicators, reading books that inspire you, and/or participating in a group that inspires people to grow in delivering sermons.
Gracefully bless the transition of the one leaving the church – Remember, they are not “our” people, but they are God’s people. If someone feels they are not being fed, allow them to transition gracefully. Use the “grocery store test” to help you know how to respond. You want to be able to see that person in the grocery store and be able to go up to them and say hello and not have to go down another aisle to avoid them. As church leaders, our heart is to see people grow. If they will grow in the Lord more at another church, then we should bless them to go.
- When I speak, the Holy Spirit rides upon my words and transforms lives.
- I am committed to continually improving my preaching and teaching.
- I respond well when people criticize me.
Help! I'm a Pastor: Practical Wisdom for Church Leaders
by Steve Backlund with Jim Baker
Help! I Am a Pastor addresses many common situations in church life that few seem really prepared for. It gives tools to successfully addressing these happenings with humor, healthy beliefs, and divine strategies. The truths presented will help every church leader become more proactive in his or her leadership, plus be able to equip their teams with the core values necessary to create healthy ministries. This book includes 80 life and leadership core values and 50 scenarios.