After purchasing something during the Christmas season the salesperson handed me the receipt and said, “Here you go. You will be contacted in a few days to complete a brief survey. You could win a gift-certificate.” I smiled politely and said, “OK. Thanks.”
It’s not that I was going to avoid the survey but I certainly wasn’t going to go out of my way to look for it. In my mind, there is not much more that they need from me after they have my money and I take the receipt.
However, my perspective changed when I was speaking to one of our college-aged students during the holidays about how his work gave him financial incentives for good customer service through these surveys. Good survey results are good for him. I’ll admit it, now I’m more attuned to how I can help the salesperson and the respective companies to improve.
I got to thinking, as your pastor, perhaps I should be asking like a customer survey, regarding the impact of preaching to your spiritual life.
For those who don’t know, I spend hours each week reading, meditating on and praying through our text. I have a few days to become intimately acquainted with it. I strive to learn all its nuances, textures, hues and beauty. I read commentaries to better understand and books for a different perspective. Through prayer, I figuratively strike the rock of the text in hopes that a miracle would happen and water would gush out of it.
But I don’t do this simply for myself (though I benefit immensely from this weekly discipline). I do it for our church. I do it for you. I do my very best to get the marrow of the text into my bones so I can get it into the hearts and minds of those who will gather on Sunday morning.
During the week, I think of various people whom I have come to love at VCF. I am pulled over by Holy Spirit, kind of like a divine police car, to pray for and visit members of VCF. More than anything I want God to be glorified by you getting the text—or perhaps better—the text getting you like it got me! Yes, I am aware of my shortcomings, but I love VCF and want you to grow with me, in our mutual journey of living the abundant life together.
Then I preach and deliver this clumsily, but nevertheless lovingly wrapped homiletical package to you. I finish and close in prayer. It is done.
I step down from the stage and sing the closing song with you. I speak the benediction with you. Then I move about the Worship Center talking to many of you even as I have prayed for you this week. I love God, you and the passage I have preached from.
You know what happens so often after this? I generally don’t hear much about the message. Now hear me out. I am not advocating saying nice things or compliments to your pastor to make him feel better (although it does make me feel good). But feedback around the topic of the sermon provides a reinforcement of God’s order and design for the church.
Constructive comments also give me help for the following weeks on things God may place on my heart to emphasize. You can play an important part of my spiritual growth by sharing not just what you have heard, but how the Word of God is being received, contemplated and applied