I have been a part of various avenues of discipleship and study for the ministry whereby a preacher was evaluated. They have ranged from the very informal–“What struck you most about the sermon?”–to the very minute–“Was the exegesis appropriate? Where did it go awry?”
I call this a “Preacher Evaluation Form” as opposed to “Preaching Evaluation Form” because what we are evaluating is actually the preacher. You can quibble if you’d like, but every sermon offered is a bit of the preacher at the pulpit. We can talk at length about objectivity through exegetical method, but at the end of the sermon, we are still left with the preacher’s accent in our ears. I believe this fact is something we ought to whole-heartedly embrace. This is the economy God has set up in preaching. Derivatively, it is fallacious for a pastor to say, “I didn’t say it, God said it.” Note the irony that he is saying it?!?!
The problem with the informal method is that the preacher is very rarely helped in a formative way. The critic is given free reign to argue about his particular bent in theology or praxis.
The problem with the very minute way is that the pastoral heart is very rarely affected. The criticism veers off toward trees branches and misses the proverbial forest.
Surely both matter! In an effort to navigate a balance between informal that doesn’t have teeth and the formal that tears unnecessarily, I came up with my own evaluation form. This form is dynamic and I would welcome your dialogue on how to improve it.
I pray it is helpful to you as you seek to disciple people who want to communicate the Gospel in a vibrant and exact way. Ideally, it would be filled out and talked about a day or two after the sermon is given. I personally don’t think it’s helpful to give it right after because it fosters a critical atmosphere during the message. I also think it best for those who are evaluating to give their thoughts a couple days to process–rather than giving a gut-reaction to the sermon. This translates to time and care given when evaluating. This is not your time to say what you would have done, but to find out why the preacher did what he did. You want his person to be sanctified and affirmed rather than imputing your person on him–like armor that doesn’t fit.