No matter what field you’re in, there is always going to be potential for someone to give negative feedback on the work you’re doing. In the case of being a pastor, this negative feedback tends to come more frequently due to the nature of the work as a communicator of God's Word. It may seem as though everyone has an opinion about what you’re preaching on, how the services are formatted, how the church is being led, etc.
While there are definitely times that negative feedback can be helpful, and even necessary, to point out some blind spots that might exist within your church or ministry, it is important to use wisdom and discernment when sorting through the negative feedback. With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you receive negative feedback from someone in your church.
- Is this person someone I trust to give me honest, objective feedback?
- Is this person involved and invested in the church on a consistent basis?
- Was the feedback provided in a constructive way or in a complaining way?
- Does the person giving the feedback seem to have the church’s best interest at heart, or do they seem to be giving the feedback for self-benefiting reasons?
- Did this feedback seem reasonable and seem like something I should address according to my mentors, advisory board, or trusted friends when I shared it with them?
By answering these questions, you should see whether or not this feedback is something worth addressing or if it’s something to avoid acting on for the time being. Please understand this is not a license to completely ignore any negative feedback you may receive, but rather, this is a call to be discerning with the feedback.
Standing in front of a congregation week in and week out will eventually lead to negative feedback. It's just inevitable. Hopefully, these questions will provide a framework for quickly evaluating the criticism and finding a path to move forward. We are praying for you as you faithfully lead your flock!