The Church Job Performance Challenge
In working with churches, I have noticed that most of them have personnel committees, which do an annual job performance evaluation of the pastor and staff. I did an extensive search for a process that is appropriate for the church. Ultimately, I found one which is grounded in scripture and focuses on the mission of the church. All the material below is attributed to the Center for Parish Development
, an entity dedicated to the mission of the church.
Recovery from a broken relationship with a minister takes a long time. Usually the breakdown occurs over a period of two or more years. Then it takes one to two years to find another minister, and then it takes up to three years for the new minister to have a grasp for the people and mission of the church. That’s five to seven years that the church is sidetracked from mission. Time and energy is better invested in making the relationship work.
Two Major Considerations
There are two major considerations which need to be kept in mind for the church’s relationship with its ministers.
- The church operates as an entire system on mission. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness (1 Corinthians 12:26).
- The church should function as the “body of Christ” in how it addresses the job performance of the ministers.
Many churches are using job performance processes borrowed from business or academic institutions. Any job performance process used in the church must be in keeping with the gospel, both in its method and the manner in which it is done. It must proclaim and model the gospel. If it does not, it does not belong in the church. The following characteristics will demonstrate a gospel oriented approach:
- It must consider the entire church system rather than the ministers alone. Every person in the church is responsible for the mission of the church, yet job performance processes do not evaluate the deacons, Sunday School teachers, chairs or members of committees or the members of the church as a whole.
- It should model the Kingdom of God. A caring process that shows Jesus’ way of relationships and manifests the fruit of the Spirit.
- It must demonstrate a difference, in the way it is designed and carried out, from the way secular institutions deal with people.
- It should equip the whole people of God for a shared ministry together, members and ministers.
- It should express the essence of mission.
Performance Analysis, not Appraisal
In recent years, two primary approaches to performance evaluations have been used: appraisal processes and analysis processes.
- Assume an over/under hierarchy.
- One person or group has “power over” another.
- The relationship is not a shared partnership in mission.
- This arrangement exists where churches assume that the minister is an “employee,” who is “hired” to meet the needs, wants, and sometimes whims of those who hired him or her.
- Therefore, when performance appraisals are done, some person or group sits in judgment upon another.
- Appraisal processes are dangerous because they place supervisors and/or committees in the position of “playing God” with other persons’ jobs and lives.
Research on appraisal processes indicate:
- They either have no effect on performance or make performance worse rather than better.
- When pastors and staff are placed in a context where they must invest energy into protecting and defending themselves from those sitting in judgment upon them, their energy is not available for creative ministry.
- Appraisal processes create a defensive, win/lose climate that actually undermines the climate of love and caring support that the church is called to demonstrate to its ministers.
- Are usually based on the assumption that an entire system is in operation.
- When job performance is high, it usually means pastor and people are working well together as a system.
- When performance is low, it means the church system is not working well.
- Focus upon the collaborative planning and ministry goals of the church’s mission.
- Create a supportive win/win climate which enables important information to be shared and helps people feel safe with one another to take risks and to be vulnerable to one another.
- Provides a setting where the committee and minister examine together how the entire system is operating as well as how individuals are performing.
The Ministry Planning & Review System is an analysis process which focuses on the planning of ministry. The ministers’ understanding of the church and the practice of ministry will inevitably influence the style and life of a congregation. How well the ministers and members plan for ministry and carry out their plan will largely determine the effectiveness of the church.
But Planning Is Not Enough
For a minister to be most effective, a support system is required. Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them? (Hebrews 13:17 MSG)
These thoughts above are from Larry Glover-Wetherington, our partner in ministry who resides in Durham, North Carolina. He has served in various capacities either as pastor, intentional interim pastor, coach, and mentor in numerous churches across the Southeastern United States.
Read more about more about this topic from Larry in upcoming weekly blogs.