I encourage you to read articles one and two in this series before jumping into this one if you haven’t read it yet. But if you have, then let’s jump into the how of sermon reviews.
How to Review Your Sermon
Review With Trusted Advisers
Proverbs talks about wisdom being found in the counsel of many. So you need a panel of trusted advisors. I have seen a council of 3-4 trusted advisors work well. Any less and there are too few perspectives. Any more and the process can take too long. I say ‘trusted advisors’ because you need people that have your best interest at heart. You need to trust they aren’t there to hinder or hurt you. This isn’t American Idol. You do not want any Simon Cowell’s on the panel. These are people that lovingly tell the truth. They are people that exhibit Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”. In other words, you are not looking for a panel of yes men and women. You are looking for people to speak truthfully into your message.
Review With A Diversity Of Advisors
You want people that bring different perspectives to the table. So, get a diversity of advisors. Someone to watch how you look. Were you smiling enough? Someone to watch what you said. Did you deliver the line better than how you wrote the line? Someone to watch what you wrote. Are the slides spelled correctly, are there any typos? Someone to watch for structure and flow. Did you have the right content, but just maybe in the wrong order? Someone to watch for time. If you are looking to preach for 45 minutes, do you have someone timing the sermon? Someone to watch for believers and unbelievers. Do you have content that applies to both groups of people? As much diversity - age, gender, ethnicity, religious background - you can get on the panel of advisors, the better.
Start With An Overview, Then Go Page By Page
Starting with an overview from the panel lets the preacher know how the message landed. They can quickly get a sense of what worked and what didn’t. This overview should be less than a minute and generally positive. Starting with an overview also lets the preacher catch their breath and mentally change gears. It can be difficult preaching content for 45 minutes and then jumping right into nitty and gritty details. After the overview go page by page. The panel should write notes on their copy of the manuscripts during the message. They can bring up these notes as you go through them, page by page.
It’s Not A Democracy
The review process is not a democracy. It’s a benevolent dictatorship. And the preacher is the dictator. The panel isn’t voting where to take the message. Instead they are simply presenting their feedback. The preacher then decides to take or leave the feedback. So, not only does the preacher need to have thick skin for this to work, the panel needs to have thick skin as well. Some of their feedback will be implemented. And some will not. The panel needs to be comfortable with this for the process to work. If not, then a preacher starts to make decisions based on how to appease members of the panel instead of how to engage members of the congregation. And that’s not a good place to be.
We will cover counter arguments in part four of this series…