Ed Compean has planted and pastored churches in Nairobi, Kenya and now is a church planting coach and mentor to many church leaders.
Tim Keller effectively communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching, but concerning young pastors the well known preacher recently said to church planters, “For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.”
“For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do,
your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.”
When applied as designed, the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual places a strong emphasis on development of teaching and preaching in the season of equipping before the church plant. Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters. As the church plant moves past a core group, and especially past the launch of Sunday services, there becomes less and less opportunity to grow in preaching by receiving valuable feedback and coaching. In those first sermons of the new church the enemy who hates the church planter, and the fledgling local expression of the church, will be active to convince the planter he is useless. While not forgoing the tools of spiritual warfare, I would like to suggest three ideas for the church planter to continue the pattern of growth begun in the teacher training of the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual.
“Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters.“
Planter: Ask Your Wife (or other key person)
Unless he is terribly unique, at some point on Sunday afternoon the church planter will ask his wife some version of, “So, how did the message go today.” The 10-minutes that follow may be the best preparation for the following week’s sermon. This point obviously presumes the planter is married. If not, then another key person can be identified.
A pastor friend offers a short class for pastor and elder’s wives on how to critically listen to a sermon and it may be good to consider something similar for future church planters. In the meantime I suggest planters ask their wives to read the “Teaching and preaching” section in the appendix of the Church Planting Manual. It is amazing how with a little forethought and preparation how sophisticated a listener can become and how much invaluable feedback a wife can bring.
Planter: Ask the Core Team
I strongly suggest a debrief meeting of the previous Sunday service early enough in the week to prepare for the coming service. As discussions of setup, sound balance and timing of the offering are discussed, it is also valuable to ask a few key questions about the sermon. It would probably be profitable to develop a template of four or five key questions concerning the message and save more in depth discussions for another time. Questions could include:
• What was the object of the message?
• How were my mannerisms?
• Where there any illustrations that did not work?
• How did this apply to the congregation’s head (intellect), heart (inner being), and hands (application)?
• What was he main takeaway point of the message?
• What could I have done better?
• What worked well?
Planter: Ask a Coach
As a planter moves out of the mentoring relationship of his sending church, the coaching relationship typically becomes the key to development of the planter spiritually, but also in practical church matters like preaching. It is advised that the coach listen to several messages (presumably not the whole first 200), from a planter and make note of good and bad patterns.