7 Good and Bad Ways to Give Your Pastor Feedback on the Sermon

Britt Mooney

Contributing Writer
Updated May 14, 2024
7 Good and Bad Ways to Give Your Pastor Feedback on the Sermon

Communication serves as the foundation of a great relationship, and since it’s so important, healthy communication is key. Toxic communication breaks bonds and separates people, while constructive and encouraging conversations bring us closer together. 

The Bible gives the family as a model for the church, and the idea of pastor refers to caretaking or shepherding a flock. Scripture doesn’t teach spiritual leadership as an organizational hierarchy but relational, a servant leader among fellow children of God, brothers and sisters. 

The pastor has many roles, but most expect him to give a sermon on Sunday. Pastors generally stand before the congregation during a service and teach a message from the Scripture to encourage, challenge, and grow the family of God. In the standard of healthy communication, we should give the pastor feedback on his sermon. 

Sometimes we have positive feedback. But because the pastor is human, and so are we, there can be misunderstandings or errors. We also have a spiritual enemy who tries to divide and cause conflict within the faith family. With this in mind, we must endeavor to communicate in loving and generous ways with our pastor, even more so during potential conflict. 

Here are seven good ways and bad ways to give your pastor feedback.

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3 Bad Ways to Give Feedback

1. Get Personal

If we feel the pastor has made an error or we have a personal problem with the sermon, we might feel offended because of the topic or seriousness of the issue. In that situation, people can be tempted to respond by attacking the pastor’s personal life. Generally, this entails questioning the pastor’s motivation, as if he meant to hurt us or a group of people we care about. 

Even worse, people might bring up personal issues to tear the pastor down, like his own past failures or family issues. No individual is perfect, and we all have problems and struggles. Getting personal becomes a distraction to the original issue and creates more conflict, since no one feels open to constructive conversation when others highlight their personal failures. 

If something in the sermon offended us, we should keep the conversation centered around the topic, the doctrine, or what was specifically said. Share from personal experience or our perspective why this either offended or concerned us, and allow the pastor to respond to the specific statement or teaching in question. Then we can have meaningful and constructive engagement with the biblical text or theological concepts presented.

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2. Accusatory, Harsh Language

Along with bringing up a pastor’s personal failures in response to a negative reaction, people can use harsh and accusatory language when giving feedback. 

Our culture today seems to enjoy extreme labels and reactions to people we disagree with. The internet keeps us from dealing with people face to face and allows us to say hurtful things without much immediate consequence. Social media has developed “click bait” as well – headlines meant to sensationalize a topic. All of this leads us away from reasonable and loving discussion. 

Part of the online culture throws around terms like “fascist,” “racist,” “homophobe,” and others if we feel someone crosses the line. Or people get “canceled.” However, these terms don’t facilitate open and honest communication. They simply start fights or make people feel defensive. This harsh language creates a hostile and confrontational atmosphere, making it difficult for the pastor to even hear feedback, much less process and respond appropriately. 

Harsh language doesn’t foster a culture of grace, humility, and mutual edification within the church. Instead of offering encouragement, support, or constructive criticism, accusatory language breeds resentment, division, and animosity among the congregation.

Accusatory language fails to uphold the biblical principles of love, kindness, and respect towards one another. Ephesians 4:29 admonishes us “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

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3. Publicly Criticize

If we have a problem with something in the sermon, people might publicly criticize the pastor. Our society today has several opportunities to do this, through social media and other avenues. This behavior not only undermines the pastor’s authority and leadership but also damages the congregation's sense of security and spiritual well-being.

Public criticism of the pastor creates a divisive and contentious atmosphere within the church, fostering resentment, gossip, and discord among the congregation. Instead of promoting open dialogue and constructive feedback, public criticism erodes trust and undermines the pastor's ability to effectively minister to the needs of the congregation. 

Jesus clearly teaches what to do when we have a problem with another person. It all begins with a personal, loving interaction. And if the issue is serious or unresolved after a personal conversation, then we bring in others to help reconcile the issue (Matthew 18:15-17). 

Public criticism fails to uphold the standards of love, humility, and grace that are central to the Christian faith. Ephesians 4:15 urges us to “speak the truth in love,” emphasizing the importance of communication that is characterized by kindness, gentleness, and respect. Publicly criticizing the pastor disregards this biblical principle and can cause unnecessary harm and division within the church community.

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4 Good Ways to Give Feedback

1. Constructive Criticism

Offering constructive criticism to the pastor after a sermon is a valuable and effective way to provide feedback that promotes growth, learning, and improvement. Constructive criticism involves providing feedback in a respectful, thoughtful, and helpful manner, with the goal of encouraging the pastor’s development and enhancing the quality of future sermons.

Constructive criticism focuses on specific, actionable feedback relevant to the content, delivery, or impact of the sermon. By pinpointing areas for improvement and offering practical suggestions for enhancement, this enables the pastor to identify strengths and weaknesses in their preaching and teaching, leading to personal and professional growth.

Approaching the pastor in a constructive way fosters open dialogue and communication between the pastor and the congregation, creating a culture of transparency, accountability, and mutual respect within the church community. When feedback is delivered with kindness, humility, and a spirit of collaboration, it strengthens the bond between the pastor and the congregation, promoting unity and trust.

A pastor should be humble enough to realize how we can all improve as communicators, and when we lovingly make sure the pastor understands we are for them and believe in them, this becomes an opportunity for the pastor to understand the needs, concerns, and preferences of the church community. By actively listening to feedback and incorporating constructive suggestions into their preaching and teaching, the pastor demonstrates a commitment to serving the spiritual needs of the congregation and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

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2. Ask Questions for Further Understanding

If we don’t fully understand a point in the sermon, or maybe a statement piqued our interest, we should ask questions for clarification or further study. This method encourages a constructive exchange of ideas, promotes mutual understanding, and encourages deeper engagement with the sermon's content.

Asking questions allows members of the congregation to seek clarification on aspects of the sermon that may be unclear or ambiguous. By expressing genuine curiosity and a desire to understand, congregants can create opportunities for the pastor to provide additional context, explanation, or insight into the biblical passages, theological concepts, or practical applications discussed in the sermon.

Pastors generally have more to say than time on Sunday allows. Their personal study includes various resources and a large amount of time, all of which contributes to the message. Pastors love to give further clarification or point people to texts for further study. 

Asking questions facilitates meaningful dialogue between the pastor and the congregation, fostering an atmosphere of openness, humility, and mutual respect. Through respectful inquiry and active listening, both the pastor and members can share perspectives, insights, and reflections on the message, leading to greater mutual understanding and spiritual growth.

Moreover, this provides an opportunity for congregants to express any disagreements or concerns they may have with the sermon’s content in a constructive and respectful manner. Rather than resorting to criticism or judgment, asking questions allows individuals to voice their perspectives and engage in a dialogue that promotes understanding, empathy, and reconciliation.

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3. Mention Specific Parts That Blessed You

In many cases, we’ve been inspired by the sermon. When providing feedback, mentioning specific parts that blessed us, rather than offering vague praise, is an excellent approach that promotes encouragement, affirmation, and meaningful engagement with the sermon's content.

By identifying and highlighting specific aspects of the sermon that resonated with us, we demonstrate attentiveness, discernment, and appreciation for the pastor’s efforts in crafting and delivering the message. Whether it be a particular Scripture passage, a theological insight, or a practical application, acknowledging specific elements of the sermon allows you to express gratitude and encouragement in a tangible and meaningful way.

Giving general statements like “good job” or “it was great” may sound positive, but these fall short of encouragement. Pastors pray and study with our encouragement and edification in mind. 

Mentioning specific parts of the sermon provides valuable feedback, helping the pastor discern which aspects of their preaching are most impactful and effective in ministering to congregational needs. This information enables the pastor to build upon their strengths, refine their preaching style, and tailor future sermons to better serve the spiritual growth and edification of the church community.

Additionally, citing specific examples of how the sermon blessed us fosters a culture of gratitude, appreciation, and mutual encouragement within the church community. By sharing personal reflections and testimonies of how God spoke to us through the sermon, we inspire others to reflect on their own experiences and deepen their engagement with the message.

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4. Use Various Channels

When giving such positive and specific feedback, this is the time to do it publicly or personally, and we possess several channels to accomplish this. Utilizing these various channels allows us to express our thoughts and reflections in a manner both convenient and accessible. 

By employing a range of communication channels such as personal conversations, emails, texts, social media, and more, congregants can choose the method that best suits their preferences and comfort level. This flexibility ensures that feedback can be shared in a timely and efficient manner, regardless of individual communication preferences or constraints.

Utilizing multiple channels of communication enhances the reach and impact of feedback within the church community. Personal conversations allow for in-depth discussion and dialogue, fostering meaningful engagement and mutual understanding between the pastor and the church. Emails and texts provide a convenient way to communicate feedback asynchronously, allowing congregants to express their thoughts and reflections at their own pace.

Leveraging social media platforms enables congregants to share their feedback with a broader audience, fostering community engagement and encouraging dialogue among members of the congregation. Whether through public posts, comments, or private messages, social media offers a dynamic and interactive platform for congregants to share their thoughts and reflections on the sermon.

Just as public criticism tears people down, to share a sermon link or quote from the pastor builds him up, encouraging them their hard work hasn’t been in vain.

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Build Your Pastor Up

To be frank, pastors often feel under attack. First, they have a spiritual enemy who tries to tear them down. Second, the world often communicates a hostility to the Gospel and truth. Our modern culture doesn’t respect pastors; they likely mock or dismiss them. Third, a pastor is well aware of his own weakness and frailty. With constant work and the crises within the family of God, a pastor can feel very alone, and they burn out quickly. 

Pastors are human, and not perfect, and they may miscommunicate or make mistakes. Their positions don’t make them immune to error, nor do they excuse it. However, dealing with conflict in loving and encouraging ways helps the pastor to feel supported instead of further attacked. And both parties often learn important lessons in healthy and loving exchanges. 

At the same time, pastors do many things in service and self-sacrifice. Any positive and affirming statements about their sermons can encourage them and help them feel loved and appreciated. 


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Britt MooneyBritt Mooney lives and tells great stories. As an author of fiction and non -iction, he is passionate about teaching ministries and nonprofits the power of storytelling to inspire and spread truth. Mooney has a podcast called Kingdom Over Coffee and is a published author of We Were Reborn for This: The Jesus Model for Living Heaven on Earth as well as Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight.

Originally published Monday, 13 May 2024.