categories: church, development, leadership, preaching
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December 3rd, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

11 comments (+ Add)

The Timing of Feedback

Not only do you want to ask the right people the right questions, but you’ll also want to do it at the right time.

I see three different times when feedback is valuable:

1)    Before the event

Most leaders I know look for feedback on the back end. I crave it on the front end. Each week before I preach a sermon, I have no fewer than a dozen different people work through my notes with me. I always ask, “What one thing was the most helpful? What one thing would you cut? What is one other suggestion you have?” Feedback on the front end helps me make changes when changes are easiest.

2)    Immediate feedback

Receiving immediate feedback is valuable (especially if you are doing an event or talk more than once). People can be very helpful when an event is fresh on their minds. I always try to write down what they say so I can review their thoughts later.

3)    Much later feedback

Occasionally, immediate feedback isn’t wise. You may be too vulnerable after a talk or event. The highs seems too high or the lows seem too low. You (or others) might be too caught up in the moment to be objective.

Once everyone sleeps on it, has a chance to talk to some other people, and has some time to process, you might learn more from post-event evaluations. We’re often much more objective once the immediate emotion dies down.

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  1. Dec 3, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Good thoughts Craig. I especially like that last one. it is sometimes soooo hard to be objective. When I may feel I did a good job my wife (my best critic and judge) may keep my feet on the floor. Sometimes she is brutally honest: “I’ve heard better before.” Other times she will agree that I made the point. But I don’t do that right afterwards. And I don’t take too much to those who say something on the way out. :)

    BTW: happy belated birthday???

  2. Dec 3, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Thank you Craig. Wish I had these ideas under my belt eighteen months ago. I gave our men’s ministry team immediate feedback during a retreat. I then — at the same time — needed to disclaim some of the things our speaker said in front of all the men. In retrospect both of those things were ill-advised. Still hold to the views I expressed and would have given the feedback to the team, just not during the retreat!
    Thanks so much for these ideas. Have a great day.

  3. Dec 3, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I think you are right in there being value to getting feedback at different times. I have been part of all three but you have to be a leader that is humble enough to hear and apply. I have given asked to give feedback and they were always “too vulnerable” to hear the feedback even though they asked me to give it, but that is a completely different subject.

  4. Dec 3, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Very helpful. I usually don’t have “before the event” feedback.

    I think this is a key element of effective communication.

    You have a great system set up!

    Craig, where do you learn all this stuff??

    Experience?! Just plain wisdom? God has given you a knowledge of so much that is helpful!

  5. Dec 4, 2009 at 9:32 am

    GREAT INSIGHT!!! FEELING ARE SOOOO FICKLE!!! Better to Sleep on it. (Via Bill) Happy Late Birthday Also Pastor Craig…39 again? LOL! That reminds me, I will be 40 in 2 years…Yikes! Time is just a flyin!!!! I try to remember Each Day is a GIFT… and I need to unwrap it…Ha.

  6. Dec 4, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Okay, okay. But how do we know which to use when?!?!

    You’re killing me, Craig!

  7. Dec 5, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Do you ever pray for the knowledge of what you are to preach? I think if we worked less on “showmanship” of preaching, and spent more time doing the will of our Father we may be very surprised.

    Just my thoughts

  8. 9Nathan M
    Dec 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    This is truly a helpful post for me. I often search for immediate feedback and fail to ask for review before hand which could help tremendously. The feedback on the front in can definite help steer me in a more focused direction before presentation or teaching.

  9. Dec 9, 2009 at 3:13 pm


    Great blog - very insightful. It really does help. But I am going to get straight to the point.

    I am 22 years old, fresh out of seminary, now working on my Masters in Evangelism and Church Planting, I pastor a group of 100 students in Louisiana (of all places), and God has given me the gifting, abilities, vision, and passion to plant a church in the future. He has connected me with passionate (crazy) people and we are already building a team of young people that are just crazy enough that God could use us to do something great for His Kingdom.

    I would consider you one of my “distance mentors”. You have no clue who I am but you speak life into me as a pastor. I can’t thank you enough.

    But, I want to take a radical leap of faith and ask if you could be more than a “distance mentor.” You are busy I know and I have no idea how to properly contact you (if there is a way) so this is my attempt.

    I’d at least like to get in one phone conversation with you so I can share my dreams and vision with you. You have my email so if this works - it works.

  10. Dec 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Great post. I total agree with the “Much Later Feedback.”

    Sometimes I am just not able to handle feedback (especially negative) when I am exhausted from a big event. Getting it much later, after I have rested, tends to work better. Sorry I had to learn this the hard way.