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Earl Marshall

Month: January 2011

More Things I Have Learned From My Sermon Evaluations

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. 


Learning About Our Church

As part of my Doctor of Ministry program at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary I have been required to receive input from our congregation on my preaching.  So once in September and again in November of 2010 those in attendance on a Sunday morning were given the privilege to give their input. 

Next week I will give you some of the finer details of the results.  But reading through the demographic information received has been insightful and revealing about our church family.

80% of those in attendance on the Sunday mornings the evaluation was handed out actually completed a survey and handed it in.  That is totally beyond my expectations. 

Of the 80% who completed an evaluation we have learned the following:

64% are over the age of 40.  This certainly reflects the multi-generational look of our church but it also is a bit of a wake up call for me.  We aren't as young as we think we are.

30% listening to a sermon on Sunday are not married.

53% are female.

42% have been attending OBC for 5 years or less.

81% indicate that they have been a follower of Jesus Christ for more than 10 years.

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