A useful process: Priest reviews her own sermons online


The Rev. Robyn Barnes of Church of the Nativity in Helena, Mont., has taken to reviewing her own sermons in a very systematic way. She writes about this process on her blog (where she posts her reviews), providing a checklist that may be useful to other preachers:

On any given Sunday, I know that there are things I could have done better. It may be a good sermon; I may have preached the Good News; I may be able to have done a better job. I wanted build some time on that question into my week. And I wanted to do it publicly. …

There are nine things I include each week in my sermon review.

A link to the audio of my sermon. Because if you are willing to read through the rest of this, you might want to hear what I preached.

Summary of what I was saying and why. I keep this in case you haven’t listened to my sermon or have already forgotten what I said. It also gives me a chance to talk about why I used a particular text or focused on something. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve been making the best use of this so far.

Theology: One of my internal checks against preaching ruts and/or getting stuck in a sermon is to ask what the theology of the sermon is. (It has helped me write the conclusion of more sermons than I can count.) So I have this one here for me more than anyone else.

Jesus Count: I adopted this from my preaching professor. It’s about how often the preacher mentions Jesus. I tend to measure with a low, moderate, or high count.

Good News: The (hopefully) one sentence summary of what I thought people might hear in the sermon.

What did I change on my feet? I preach without notes. A manuscript gets in my way and my memory lets me do it. Which means that sometimes things get better or left out on Sunday morning.

Every week I’ve asked myself what did and didn’t work. No giant revelation has come out of this. That doesn’t surprise me. I often know fairly quickly what I wish I would have said or a phrasing I fumbled. This is also about being transparent.

Read part 1 of Robyn’s post here and part II here.

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