Church Culture Conference: How to Receive Feedback

Day two of The Church Culture Conference is kicking off with Sheila Heen, author of Thanks for the Feedback and speaker at the Global Leadership Summit last year. As a specialist in feedback in any area, she’s focusing her talk today on feedback in ministry and church teams.

Feedback can be tricky because it lies at the intersection of two human needs: the need to learn and grow and the need to be respected and loved. When feedback that might help us grow also causes us to feel unloved, it can be hard to embrace.

There are three kinds of feedback, each necessary and complimentary: 

Appreciation: “I value you.”

Coaching: “Here’s how you can improve.”

Evaluation: “Here’s where you stand and what to expect.”

You can remember them with the acronym ‘ACE,’ and use them in different areas of ministry. For example, volunteers are ‘paid’ almost exclusively through appreciation. Coaching happens when leadership sows into staff members. Evaluation is any time you make a judgement call, whether it’s in a performance review or signing off on an article.

Sheila gave some great tips for working with feedback:

  • The bulk of the work involved in feedback lies with the receiver. The receiver decides how they interpret the feedback, how it makes them feel, and what they do with it.
  • It’s not always necessary to act on feedback just because you’ve asked for it. Judge if it’s practical, attainable, reasonable, healthy, etc. And sometimes feedback is just wrong.
  • But, be careful not to decide to quickly if feedback is worthwhile.
  • Decide who can give you feedback. People outside your church culture, people who have serious work issues of their own, people with very little experience, these may not be the voices you want coaching you.
  • There will always be something wrong with the feedback you receive. Think about it, mull it over, and pull out the kernels of truth in feedback even if a portion of it is wrong.

Here are a few additional articles on feedback from the Open Network.

Follow our free performance review tool Develop.Me on social media to keep up with the rest of The Church Culture Conference event.


FOMO is real, so don’t take chances.

Get the latest blog content delivered straight to your inbox.

Reach more people for Christ.

Find free resources, training, online community, and apps on the Life.Church Open Network.

Start your free account