This past Sunday, someone mentioned the importance of soliciting feedback in ministry. Yes! Our individual disciplines are important, but there is growth that comes only in community.
So then, developing godly “feedback loops” is crucial for Grace Church. What then, practically, do godly “feedback loops” look like?
Humble. Yes, of course. But it’s always worth saying again: God gives grace to the humble. Sometimes, grace comes through humbly seeking and giving and receiving feedback from others.
The pursuit of godly feedback. It’s easy to assume that we are the ones doing feedback in a godly way, and the other is not – whether we are giving or receiving. But godly feedback is harder than it looks – certainly to receive it, but also to give it. It takes humility, and it takes practice.
The pursuit of God’s priorities. Too often, feedback begins and ends with us, with what we want, and then we express that feedback before we’ve checked in with God, to remind ourselves of what He wants. I suggest the following three categories of feedback,* as a way to check ourselves, and as a way to vet received feedback:
- Biblical/Theological: Are we talking about an issue that directly relates to Scripture? Of course, we could argue that everything does. But not everything connects to Scripture with equal weight. The Bible itself puts its own focus, first and last, on God (“In the beginning, God . . .”). And Paul made distinctions, saying that the gospel was of first importance, particularly the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and appearances to real people (1 Cor. 15:3-5). So we want to pay particular attention, and give “pride of place” in our feedback, to what we say about God and His gospel.
- Pastoral Prudence: And then, secondly, how we say the truth. An example of feedback for Pastoral Prudence: “Jed, you were exactly, theologically right on what you said about ___________, but the way you said it, I think could have seemed harsh for ______________.” This kind of feedback is interested in our truth being clothed in wise love.
- Personal Preference: We all have preferences, and they’re not nothing. They just never rise above third importance. Their importance lies in the fact that we don’t always know how to express ourselves. It’s the wise leader who listens to others’ preferences, not as though preferences rise to the level of truth or love, but to understand God’s people – in order to make God clearer, and His gospel that much better news.
* I learned these from Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church.