HOW TO CRITICIZE A PREACHER


 By. Dr. David Murray

So you’ve heard a sermon and you’re not happy. You feel the preacher got it badly wrong in either his interpretation, his words, his manner, his length, his whatever.

What now?

Well, I’m not going to tell you exactly what words to use. I’m simply going to give you ten questions to ask that I hope will produce the right words and the right way to say them should you ever have to offer criticism to a preacher.

1. Have I understood him correctly? Give the preacher the benefit of the doubt. Ask yourself, “Am I putting the worst possible construction on this?” Perhaps check with your husband or wife, “Did I hear this correctly…?”

2. Have I given this enough time? It’s rarely wise or helpful to immediately react to what is preached. Your passions will be high, but so will the preacher’s. Not a good recipe.

3. Have I prayed about this? Have you taken time to ask “Lord show me if I’m right here. Show me if this is important enough to take further. Help me to see if this is primary or a secondary matter?”

4. Is this just personal preference or biblical principle? We all have our favorite truths and our favorite preaching styles. Is this about bible doctrines and biblical practice or just my tradition or preference?

5. Have I thought about the best time and way to communicate? Neither Sunday or Monday are good days to approach a pastor about problems with his preaching. On Sunday, his adrenaline is still pumping. On Monday, he’s flat as a pancake. Best not do this in public in front of others but in private. Do it in a calm, gentle, and loving manner. As I’ve learned, do it personally rather than in writing or by email.

6. Am I doing this out of the right motive? Is my love and respect obvious? If it is constructive, designed to serve the pastor, then criticism can be incredibly helpful.

7. Am I focused or just spraying pellets? Never say, “And while we’re at it, that sermon last year….and here’s another thing…”

8. Have I considered the possibility that I may be one of many others doing the same? You may be the straw that breaks the preacher’s back.

9. Am I prepared to listen to his explanation and concede I was wrong? Are you genuinely open to be corrected yourself?

10. Is it in the context of previously expressed appreciation? It’s so much easier to listen to criticism when you know the person has your good at heart and wants you to thrive and prosper. The repeated critic can be much more easily ignored or dismissed.

About Jian Ming Zhong

In short, I am a five point calvinist, amillennial, post-trib rapture, paeudobaptistic (not for salvation), classical cessationism , and covenantal. I embrace Reformed Theology and subscribe to the WCF 1647. I do not break fellowship with anyone who holds to the essentials of the faith (i.e., the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, Jesus' Physical Resurrection, Virgin Birth, Salvation by Grace through Faith alone, Monotheism, and the Gospel being the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) but does not affirm Calvinist Theology in the non-essentials. I strongly believe that God's grace and mercy are so extensive that within the Christian community there is a wide range of beliefs and as long as the essentials are not violated, then anyone who holds to those essentials but differs in the non-essentials is my brother or sister in Christ. Romans 11:36 "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To whom be Glory forever. Amen!"
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