Ask the Pastor – Anonymous Feedback

We need feedback. As we grow as a congregation together, we need to hear from our members, from our friends, and from our community how things are going. As we try new things, we need to learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard. Hearing constructive criticism is often difficult, but it’s how we learn together.

We really do!

Unfortunately, when we get anonymous feedback, it’s hard to know what to do.

And there are lots of reasons why someone might not want to attach their name to a comment or thought.

Why give anonymous feedback?

We give feedback anonymously for all manner of reasons:

  • Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings
  • We don’t know who to bring a comment to
  • Fear of backlash
  • We want to avoid conflict
  • Maybe we just don’t want to talk more about it, but feel the comment needs to be made
  • We don’t know if anyone else feels the same and don’t want to be judged
  • Need for confidentiality because of prayer requests or personal matters
  • Need for confidentiality because of misconduct or breach of trust

These are all valid feelings to have. And there are more reasons than this why someone might not want to be named in a comment.

But as hard as it might be, I do think it’s worth it.

Why put our name on feedback?

1. Understanding: one another, comments, and communication

Understanding is the foundation of attaching our names to our comments and feedback.

  • Anonymous comments, either through a third party or through a note, can feel more harsh than initially intended to the receiver. Often to understand where a comment is coming from, we need to hear from the person we care about who is sharing.
  • Sometimes we don’t understand the comment itself. I once received a comment anonymously at my internship church that simply said: “Pastor Megan’s sermon was great, but she should really watch the video later, she has some odd movements.” Without being able to ask more details, I pored over my sermon videos. I asked my supervisor and my committee. No one could give me an answer for what was going on. It took weeks before finally the person pulled me aside and told me that even though my hand was on the pulpit, my arm kept moving. As soon as I got the detail I needed, suddenly it was clear in my videos – my elbow would wave wildly while I preached! It looked like I was doing the chicken dance! Being able to ask questions and talk to the person who commented actually helped me to find the solution!
  • Communication is a big part of our relationships together as the Body of Christ. As our church continues in the renewal process, things change, sometimes by design, sometimes as surprises. Being able to discuss together these changes and how our church family is impacted is so important.

2. Working Together

This goes back to the communication piece of understanding.

  • Anonymous feedback can often be a one-sided conversation, in a multi-sided conversation, we can learn and grow together.
  • Often working together on a solution is the best way to come to a place where all parties feel heard and valued.
  • Our congregation’s tagline on our website and our promotional materials is “A Place Where People Care”, and I’ve found that to be so true of our church. My hope is that in working together we can show care for one another, for our church, and for our community.

3. Loving Relationships

Being this place where people care, building loving relationships is a big part of our commitment to one another as part of a church family.

  • Throughout scripture, we are called to love one another and be honest together in our relationships as the Body of Christ.
  • Having conversations builds trust and relationship within our congregation and its leadership.
  • Anonymous feedback can hurt and harm. But when we come into conversation with one another, in relationship with one another, we often find more common ground than we realize.

Being Church Together

Coming together as the Body of Christ is really a miracle. We each bring our own different needs, opinions, and experiences to church with us. In searching for understanding, in working together, and in building Christ-like relationships with one another, we can continue to grow together as the church, sharing Christ’s love and grace with the world.

Pastor Megan Filer