I have just completed my Doctor of Ministry report regarding the two sermon evaluations that our congregation completed on my preaching. I have learned some important things about my preaching and our congregation.
First, I have learned that those who evaluated me were gracious. It has been an enlightening experience and a much appreciated blessing in my life.
Second, I learned the importance and power of clarity around a sermon having a central idea. It makes absolute sense that a sermon needs a central idea. It helps the communicator in knowing where they are going with the sermon and it helps the listener in being able to process the information they are attempting to understand. 95% of those surveyed said they "strongly agree" or "agree" that the sermon had a central idea. What was inspiring though, was reading the answers to the open-ended questions. Respondents were asked "what was the main idea of the sermon?" and "how do you believe God wants you to respond to the sermon?" Both of these questions were an attempt to clarify the degree to which those who listened to the sermon did walk away from the sermon with the intended main idea and purpose of the sermon. Most responses hit either part of the main idea and purpose or reflected a full understanding of what was intended.
Third, even though most responses to the evaluative statements were positive, women tended to say "strongly agree" more frequently than men. The under 18 years of age while still responding positively tended to have the greatest disconnect with the sermon.
Fourth, OBC has a congregational challenge. The numerical growth that we have experienced the last seven years is a result of transfer growth not conversion growth. 81% of respondents have been followers of Jesus Christ for more than 10 years while 42% of respondents indicated that they have been attending the church for 5 years or less.