Peter Mead has a series of posts on “When Listeners Aren’t Satisfied”. As someone who has struggled with this and too often taken it personally, I found his series extremely helpful. Peter begins:
Preaching is complex. Take, for example, the matter of listener satisfaction. If they aren’t satisfied, it could be a good sign, or a bad sign. Likewise having everyone happy may mean something is wrong. So how do we navigate the issue of listener satisfaction, after all, dissatisfaction expressed is seldom water off a ducks back (for most of us).
He then gives a list of ten “thoughts.” I will list them,but you really need to read his comments under each category. Find the beginning of the series here.
- Expressed dissatisfaction is often overstated.
- Recognize that tension fired your way is often nothing to do with you or your preaching.
- Remember that you answer to God.
- Prayerfully process feedback.
- Remember that happy listeners may mean sermon failure.
- Anonymous feedback is borderline useless
- You don’t have to take the hassle.
- Strengthen yourself with the biblical giants.
- Know your own inner landscapes.
- Whatever the justification for the criticism, make sure it improves your preaching!