How Lead Pastors Can Improve Their Teaching Team

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Senior Pastors, you want the quality of your teaching team to be as excellent as possible. Likely, you are the Lead Pastor because you have the strongest teaching gift on your team. However, to continue to be the best communicator you can be and to keep good stewardship of life with a proper work/life balance (one of our nine core values here at Vanderbloemen), you need regular breaks.

But perhaps you or your people are worried about the quality of teaching when it isn’t you. So you end up teaching more than you likely should for the sake of the church. I believe this actually hurts you and your church. I recently wrote an article on why you should teach less.

Here is a simple plan that I used for years to improve the teaching team’s abilities to communicate on the weekend: Make them preach their sermon to you early, and give them feedback before the weekend services – not just after. And I don’t mean have a short conversation about the sermon. I mean make them preach it early, before they deliver it to the entire church. They should preach it start to finish in front of you and a small group of staff or volunteers.

Here are the logistics and the benefits of this “preach it early” plan. 

The Guidelines Of The Preach It Early Plan:

1. Everyone who preaches less than 12 times a year must preach it early.

Even though I would preach 35-40 times a year, I also would go through this “preach it early” process at least twice a year. I consistently found ways to improve by getting feedback before my sermon.

2. Do it early enough that they have time to make changes before Sunday.

We would usually do it a week and a half before the weekend they would be preaching.

3. The sermon should be completely ready to go. 

All graphics, program notes, and videos were expected to be ready to go.

4. Have the speaker pick 4 - 6 people (including you) to listen to the sermon & provide feedback.

Allowing them to choose their evaluators lets them be more comfortable. I didn't allow spouses, however, because people tend to hold back constructive criticism in the feedback session if a spouse is in the room. I also encourage them to choose other members of the teaching team so we all are growing together.

5. Evaluate immediately after delivery.

Immediately when the sermon is done, go into a smaller room and ask a few questions. Once the questions are answered, it will help the sermons be better even before they preach it early. Here are the types of questions we used.

Questions for the speaker (these 4 are from Andy Stanley's Communicating for a Change and should be able to be answered in one sentence):

  • What did you want us to know?
  • Why do we need to know that?
  • What did you want us to do?
  • Why do we need to do that? 

Questions for the listeners/evaluators:

  • What did you love?
  • What was confusing or missing?
  • What suggestions do you have?

Final questions for the speaker:

  • What questions do you have for us?
  • How else can we help?

6. Record the sermon so the speaker can evaluate it themselves.

Require that the speaker watch their own sermon before they deliver it. They will see and hear the feedback that the team provided, and it will make their sermon better. Sometimes I would watch parts of the sermon with the speaker to point out significant areas of growth that can best be explained when seen rather than just described (distracting mannerisms, pacing, transitions, etc.). 

The Benefits Of The Preach It Early Plan:

1. You know the sermon is actually ready.

If they aren’t preaching on a regular basis, they may not know when a sermon is “ready.” And by the time they preach it, it is too late. Preaching a week and a half early will help them get in the habit of being truly ready. And if they aren’t ready eleven days ahead of time, you'll know it and can push them to finish their preparation.

2. Their sermons get better before they deliver them, not after.

I always struggle to give constructive feedback after a sermon. There isn’t anything they can do if I suggest an illustration didn’t hit the mark or an interpretation of Scripture was questionable. So when I give feedback after, it is almost always all positive. I rarely see the point of giving constructive feedback when it's too late. By the time they preach again, they will probably forget what I told them.

In contrast, when they present it early, I can give meaningful suggestions that will improve that very sermon, not a future sermon they may deliver months later.

3. It gets the entire teaching team on the same page.

As you do this on a regular basis and have the others on the teaching team listen and evaluate each other, it will produce a unity among the teaching team of knowing what the goal is, who the target is, and what defines an effective sermon for your teaching team. 

A unified teaching team powerfully moves a church toward the mission & vision of the church. Tweet: A unified teaching team powerfully moves a church toward the mission & vision of the church. @VanderbloemenSG

We discovered that the church became more excited about the variety of the teaching team because we all improved together and in the same direction.

4. It allows you to significantly train communicators.

This will be the most effective work you ever do in training others to be better communicators of truth to God’s people.

So why not try it? Want more tips or information? Just reach out to me. I’d love to help you. Email me with your questions or feedback at