I’ve found three things about evaluating clergy serving churches:
- Many churches never evaluate their pastors.
- When churches do evaluate their pastors, it’s often unsatisfying.
- Most parishioners truly have no idea what pastors do all week.
Jill Hudson continues to be the go-to person for clergy evaluation and she looks for these themes when evaluating clergy:
- How effective is the pastor in personal, professional, and spiritual balance?
- How effective is the pastor in guiding a transformational faith experience?
- How effective is the pastor in motivating and developing a congregation to be a “mission outpost” (help churches reclaim their role in reaching new believers)?
- How effective is the pastor in developing and communicating a vision?
- How effective is the pastor in interpreting and leading change?
- How effective is the pastor in promoting and leading spiritual formation for church members?
- How effective is the pastor in providing leadership for high-quality, relevant worship experiences?
- How effective is the pastor in identifying, developing, and supporting congregational leaders?
- How effective is the pastor in building, inspiring, and leading a team of both staff and volunteers.
- How effective is the pastor at managing conflict?
- How effective is the pastor in navigating technology?
- How effective is the pastor at being a lifelong learner?
Even these questions can fall short but they are better than questions about “the pastor’s plan for growing the church” or the “the pastor’s plan for raising money for the roof.”
If clergy evaluations have been tricky pre-pandemic, they are more so now that we’ve been social distancing since mid-March. There are so many new ways parishioners can transfer their frustrations and anxieties on pastors during COVID-19:
- Why won’t the pastor let us back in the sanctuary?
- Why didn’t the pastor visit me in the hospital when I had surgery?
- Why aren’t we doing Zoom Bible Studies like the Lutherans?
I’ve had church leaders contact me to ask if they could pay their pastors for PT work now since “obviously they aren’t working full time these days.” Congregants have no idea.
I like Jill Hudson’s themes because what we want in a church community is indeed healthy balance, transformation, inspiration, vision, leadership, and authentic relationships. We can live with the occasional dull sermon or off-key anthem or peeling paint if we are growing closer to God, closer to each other, and closer to our God-given purpose as individuals and community.
We are moving into staff review season as congregations consider their 2021 budgets. A healthy congregation has a healthy and satisfying review process. Read Jill’s book. Remember that staff evaluations are about the whole congregation. A happy, healthy, thriving church staff makes for a happy, healthy, thriving church even during a global pandemic.