Think of a time when good feedback or a helpful suggestion made a big difference for you or for your church. Think about what you do regularly that perhaps goes back to an observation or idea a friend shared with you. Remember all that you never realized you were doing wrong or poorly until someone pointed out a better way. Think of how much better a ministry is doing after changes were suggested and implemented. If many examples come to mind from this exercise, chances are you are a phenomenal leader, and whatever you lead is likely to bear fruit.
If church participants regularly see that feedback is welcomed and makes a difference, ideas for improvement are abundant.
We know that learnings from experience and feedback fuel personal leadership growth. Churches also need a culture friendly to feedback. Churches in which feedback is commonplace get there because leaders foster and model such a spirit. If church participants regularly see that feedback is welcomed and makes a difference, ideas for improvement are abundant. Every ministry leader can take steps to cultivate such an environment.
Nelson Searcy in Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services (Baker, 2011, 160-162) offers suggestions about how leaders can set the stage for a feedback-friendly church. While he is writing about planning and improving worship, these behaviors can be utilized in any aspect of the congregation’s life.
- Plan a time for feedback. Set a specific time for review.
- Begin with prayer. Thank God and ask for renewed guidance.
- Be grateful for feedback. Thoughtful feedback leads to improvement, so be grateful for it.
- Be your toughest critic. When others see you naming things you can do better, they are likely to be more open with you.
- Give and seek specific feedback. If it’s not specific, it won’t be helpful.
- Focus on the issue, not the person. The people involved in the problem probably already feel terrible. Focus on fixing the problem and not blaming anyone.
- Ensure action for each point of feedback. If you don’t, nothing changes.
- Seek feedback as a way to honor God. Begin with a humble spirit and a desire only to honor God more fully as you improve.
Every church needs a culture friendly to feedback, and every leader is called to model a spirit that seeks such feedback. Only in this way will congregations and leaders grow into ever more faithful and fruitful witness and service.
- Lewis Pastoral Leadership Inventory™ (LPLI)
- The Power of Five Questions by Matthew T. Curry
- Feedback Without the Pain by Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
- Worship Leadership Requires Planning and Evaluation by Tom Berlin and Lovett H. Weems, Jr.