Grace Church and Sermon Feedback
A Tool for Deliberate Discipleship
“What did you think about the sermon?” That’s a question you will frequently hear if you attend Grace Church. Perhaps you heard it from the preacher after the Sunday morning service or from one of our members. If you are a member, then this is not a strange question to you. You look forward to both hearing it and asking it, and you delight in the conversation that follows. But if you have never been asked this question, you may treat it as a social courtesy, and feel compelled to say something polite. And so, you might end up saying something like, “It was good!” or “That was inspiring!”. Or perhaps that question landed on your ears like a waiter at a restaurant asking you, “How was the food?”
It is possible that if you have the unbiblical notion that the gathering of the saints in corporate worship is all about ‘customer service’, then you might interpret that question as our desire as ‘service providers’ to know whether you as a consumer of spiritual goodies, were satisfied with the Sunday morning ‘experience’ or not. This is not our intention. This question, while intentional is not our way of assessing whether you will come back next week or not. This is a matter of deliberate discipleship.
Why The Spotlight on The Sermon?
While we must certainly reflect on the spiritual benefit of every element of corporate worship, the expository sermon is the highpoint of our gathering. It’s when the congregation listens with the ears of faith to what God’s Word says to His redeemed. The risen Christ speaks to his people from heaven through His Spirit inspired Word and we dare not refuse Him who speaks (Heb 12:25). The preacher is not the originator of theological ideas but a servant of Scripture. His job is to faithfully preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2).
This is why at Grace Church; you will hear expositions of Scripture where the preacher explains or ‘exposits’ the text and applies it to the hearts of the hearers. Our method of preaching is rooted in our understanding of the nature of Scripture itself. It is the almighty utterance of the Triune King. He alone has graciously made worship possible through His Son and He calls us to worship Him by the power of His Spirit as we hear His Word. As evangelicals, we believe that God’s Word is inspired, inerrant and infallible. Scripture is our supreme authority and sufficient for all matters of faith and practice; or doctrine and life.
The biblical and theological foundation for this belief is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul writes,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
This tells us that God’s Word is not just God’s Word but God’s Word to us and God’s Word for us. It is His redemptive Word. It is the unfolding drama of redemption; the wonderful story of how God saves sinners – and not just a collection of unrelated verses. God has spoken in an orderly way and He commanded His servants of old to write down His words. Therefore, we ought to lovingly pay attention to the text; to His voice. The preacher’s task is to simply explain the text and when he does so in an orderly way, the very nature and purpose of Scripture itself is upheld and honored.
A Profitable Question
So, what do we mean when we ask one another, “What did you think about the sermon?” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that God’s Word is profitable to the believer. And so, at the heart of this question is a desire to see how you, the hearer, have spiritually benefitted from God’s Word. It is a desire to hear of how the Lord has graciously worked in the lives of His disciples for His glory. It is an opportunity to engage in clarifications to remove any weeds of misunderstanding. It is also an opportunity for you to bear witness to the power of God’s Word and encourage others.
The sacred writings are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Tim 3:15). God’s Word not only saves us but sanctifies us (John 17:17, 1 Cor 1:18, 2 Cor 3:18, 2 Thess 2:13). The Spirit of Christ conforms us to the image of Christ as we lay hold of all His saving benefits by faith. This is why Peter tells us that we would do well to pay attention to Scripture as ‘a lamp shining in a dark place’ until the day dawns (2 Pet 1:19).
A Christ Exalting Answer
A Christ honoring way to give feedback about the sermon would be to consider how Scripture builds us and equips us. We are told that all Scripture is profitable for 1) teaching, 2) reproof, 3) correction and 4) training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. These are helpful categories of spiritual gain to group your answers under. So, consider how the sermon has ministered to you in these ways:
1) teaching (what have you learnt?)
2) reproof (what have you been convicted of?)
3) correction (how has the sermon corrected your way of thinking or living?)
4) training in righteousness (how have you been encouraged to live faithfully?)
As you think about these categories, here are four ways that you can be better prepared to give sermon feedback in an edifying way:
1. Prepare your heart to hear from the Lord and come with the intention to edify others in the congregation through speech that is seasoned with grace.
2. Read the sermon text the evening before and study it with your friends and family. Before you study the text and hear the sermon, ask the Lord to search your heart and transform you into the likeness of His Son. Pray what David prayed - Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
3. Remember those categories of spiritual gain from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and ask questions like:
a) What does this passage tell me about God? Which of His attributes stands out?
b) What does this text tell me about the sinfulness of man? How does it convict me of wrong doing or unbelief; fear or hopelessness? Is there something I need to repent of? Do I need to ask anyone’s forgiveness? Is there a work of reconciliation that I have left undone? What aspects of cultural thinking do I need to put off?
c) How does this text point me to Christ? What aspect of His redeeming work does the author want me to see?
d) How does this text strengthen my faith in Jesus? How does it encourage me to loving obedience? How does it comfort me? Does it make me hate my sin more? How do these truths empower me to love my brothers and sister in Christ?
e) Have I heard the sermon with the ears of faith or have I been a passive listener? What commands of Scripture have I failed to obey? Where do I need help in pursuing faithful and cheerful obedience? What do I need more clarity about? Should I speak to a trusted member or pastor about specific counsel?
4. Listen intently to the preaching of God’s Word, taking notes if possible. Give thanks in your heart for the gospel of grace being sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
So, when someone asks you, “What did you think about the sermon?” give glory to God as you recall how His all-sufficient Word has fed your soul through the sermon and encourage one another in the faith. Do this and you will help one another become wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.