5 Tips to Help You Deliver & Receive Criticism in the Church

5 Tips to Help You Deliver & Receive Criticism in the Church by Katelyn Hill

Another Sunday rolled around, and I was scheduled to lead worship that morning. Even though I had spent the entire week prepping the setlist and making sure the musicians were ready to go, I still got the jitters over how it would all work together. Would I lead “good enough?” Were the songs “right” for that morning? Those questions danced in my head. 

The morning actually went smoothly, but to my surprise, I experienced something I was not quite prepared for, a hefty amount of feedback that came upon exiting the platform. 

Over the course of that week, I had a conversation with my leader where they offered some constructive criticism in order to help strengthen and fine-tune the way I led from the platform. Then I was presented with some feedback regarding an area of growth needed for one of my team members, and I knew it was my responsibility to handle the situation. 

As much as I would like to say I received all of this with grace and healthy confidence, I felt anxiety rise up within me. 

This particular week revealed to me that criticism ignited a fear of failure in my heart, and  I needed to allow God to shape my identity and perspective in it. I came to a place of accepting that giving and receiving criticism was just a part of being a leader. I could not keep running away from it, I could actually learn from it. 

Maybe you can relate to the challenge of holding space for feedback, and learning how to see it as a gift and opportunity to grow. 

If you are positioned as a leader in your church, you are automatically more prone to hearing criticism that is both helpful and harmful. Especially if your ministry is seen on the platform, it can lend itself to even more judgment. 

Though overwhelming to be the one receiving an influx of suggestions, and preferences from fellow church members, I believe there are ways to find the beauty in criticism and remain steady in it.

Most times, it would be easier to just run from it to avoid hurting others or being hurt ourselves, but I believe the Lord can teach us how to harness criticism to strengthen our relationships, our methods of execution, and the overall church culture. 

The goal is not perfection or keeping people entertained, the goal is to assist in curating a space where the Holy Spirit can move freely in our church services. 

I believe when handled with care and respect, criticism can serve as a refiner, a teacher and a method that pushes us towards depth among our teams and ministries to better facilitate these environments. Here are five ways that will assist in strengthening our relationship with giving and receiving criticism in our churches and among our teams.

1) Check Your Heart

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”- Colossians 3:14 ESV

When the moment comes where we need to address an area of concern in our ministry, it is vital we are positioned in a posture of love. When we move from a place of compassion, we are enabled to deliver our feedback and correction from a place of clarity and alignment with the Spirit of God. 

Fear positions us in a mindset of lack and fear of loss, which can invite confusion and offense into the conversation. Love allows for grace and wisdom to be felt and seen by those we are communicating with.

When it comes to receiving criticism as a leader, asking the Lord to align our hearts with His will allow us to approach comments, feedback, and suggestions given to us through the lens of wisdom. Keeping the posture of our hearts in check will allow us to turn down our ego and turn up the spirit of wisdom.  

2) Set Clear Expectations and Empower Your Team

If your team knows that evaluation is a part of the culture, it doesn’t have to be a scary idea and that comes with a controlling energy. If someone knows that you are for them, and they can ask for clarification, feedback becomes an open conversation designed to be collaborative and helpful. 

Set the vision before your team to embrace a healthy relationship with criticism and to see the benefits that come from it. Let’s remind our teams that their identity is first and foremost in God and that what they produce from the platform does not determine their worth. 

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”- 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 ESV

3) Relationship Matters

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching” -Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

Trust is built when you lean into relationship and community with your team. 

Having the foundation of knowing one another’s stories creates a safe foundation for you and your team members when the hard conversations need to happen. When we truly know one another, we are able to communicate more effectively and love them more fully.

 4) Turn Up the Healthy Voices

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” -Proverbs 2: 6-7 ESV

Being exposed to many voices, opinions and suggestions come with the mantle of being a leader. With that, we must make the decision to have the volume turned up for those who we trust, and those positioned to speak into our lives.  

Not every voice gets to hold the same weight.

It would be unhealthy to allow every opinion and every person we encounter influence our decisions, mindsets and the direction of our ministries. We must be wise to lean into the voices of accountability, before acting on criticism given to us.

5) Model by Example

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find help in time of need.”- Hebrews 4:16 ESV

I believe a great leader is also one that is a gracious feedback receiver. Model what it looks like to not let feedback damage your identity, but invite the right kind to shape your life and heart. 

When your pastor and leader wants to speak into your life, let them! And when hurtful feedback comes around again after a Sunday, model grace and care.

Allow your heart, character, and how you execute tasks in your ministry to be shaped by those around you. Be someone who your team knows is approachable and teachable. It will inspire and invite them to do the same. 

How have you learned to handle and deliver criticism in the ministry? Let us know in the comments below!

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