Christian: Your Sermon Feedback Really Does Make a Difference!

Joe Henegan | May 7th 2019

Pastors have a tough job. The role of a church leader regularly features high among the most stressful or pressurised vocations. 

The trouble for the rest of us is that we so often forget this. It’s easy to treat pastors in the same way that children often approach their parents or their teachers - as people who exist to serve us and meet our needs, and nothing more. But pastors are just like us. They are people. They struggle. They can be ground down or they can be cheered on.

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Caring for your pastor and the difference it makes.

To mark the launch of Christopher Ash’s new release The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask) we approached a collection of pastors to find out what kind of things really, genuinely encourage them in their work. 

And what came back was gloriously simple. 

Encouraging, specific sermon feedback. That’s one key way to cheer our pastors on. To put it another way, if we’re not doing that, we’re grinding them down, even if we don’t realise it. 

Here is a selection of the anonymous comments we received from pastors: 

“One simple encouraging comment can change everything. If somebody shares how a sermon/lesson/counseling session really helped them, that can make a huge difference.”  

“The best time is when someone writes a note to say how a sermon impacted them. I think we're often embarrassed to do that to pastors (I know I am) because maybe we'll seem stupid or maybe we'll make them proud. But one of the hardest things about pastoral ministry is that you never see the result of your work. I don't appreciate these comments because it tells me I'm a good pastor, but rather because it reminds me that God is actually doing something when I get up there and preach.” 

“It is a great encouragement when people share how a Bible message has addressed a particular need or situation in their lives.” 

The rest of this blog would take about two minutes to read. Honestly, I’d rather you used that time to drop your pastor a quick email, text or note, telling him one specific way you were helped or shaped by his preaching last Sunday. 

Still here with me?! OK—here are a few other things that the pastors we asked find particularly supportive:

“One memorable moment was just after we had a stillborn baby girl. One of the deacons in the church dropped by, asked how I was doing, and prayed with me... just as I would've done if the roles had been reversed. Sometimes pastors ask "Who pastors the pastor?" One key answer is, "His fellow sheep"

“I appreciate people asking how I am doing as a person as well as asking how my ministry involvement is going.  It's great when I can be treated as an "ordinary Christian" rather than as someone with a special job. Recently, a lady from church asked how I was - when I said I was really struggling to sleep she said she'd pray and then said, "Actually, why don't we just pray now for a moment" and stood and prayed with me after church. That was wonderful in the midst of a morning where everyone had been asking how Christianity Explored - or various other ministry things - were going, or had been pouring out their own struggles to me.”  

“People showing up to our monthly prayer meeting. It makes a huge difference to me when a good number - including some I know have had to come straight from work - are there. Equally, it is pretty demoralising when there’s just a handful of you, and you start to wonder how much people care.”

“Whenever I am invited to a social gathering in a parishioner’s home, especially if there are a number of the congregation present.”

“Good pastor-friends meeting with me and commiserating with me helps a ton.”

“When people listen to you and value your leadership.” 

It is a tough job, as well as a privileged and glorious one. It’s a job that you and I can make more of a joy, or more of a drain. How great that our pastors can be genuinely encouraged in a few fairly small, specific ways, that we can all manage. How challenging that, all too often, those encouragements are noticed by our pastors because they’re far too rarely offered.

The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask) looks at how you, as a church member, can care for your pastor and the difference it makes. Seasoned former pastor Christopher Ash urges churches to think about pastors not just in terms of what they do – how they lead and pray and preach and teach and so on – but what about who they are.

Joe Henegan

Joe is our Vice President of Marketing. He lives in South London, UK with his wife and two daughters and is a member at River Church Sutton - part of the Newfrontiers network - where he runs a small group and various outreach activities.

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