By Aaron Summers
We all must do them and have them done to us. In church life, this tends to be tricky and messy. We have borrowed so many terms from the business world that we are fuzzy on the real issues before us. We use terms such as personnel, finance, human resources, etc. It is no wonder we have easily shifted into a cultural version of evaluative measures.
Every year, churches come to this point and feel they must do an evaluation on those who receive a salary. I certainly understand and accept accountability. We should be holding one another accountable. However, the criteria of the accountability are shifting toward cultural norms more than spiritual ones.
Don’t get me wrong. I know these things are important. However, we put too much emphasis on them. When it comes to evaluating the staff in your church, what do you ask?
I have served in five churches. In each of them, this was an arduous process for all involved! I have been asked about goals and vision. I have been evaluated on preaching style, length, and topic. I have been evaluated on communication and leadership. On one occasion, the question was posed to the evaluating group “What is there about the pastor you don’t like?” That was an interesting discussion.
Why? Once we have a person on staff we shift into management roles. Whether I manage the staff or the personnel does. Then, someone should manage the pastor and hold him accountable. We look at job descriptions. We search human resource materials for options. We talk about vision, mission, and purpose. We set numerical goals. We chastise if we don’t reach them and challenge them to do more if they do.
Is there another way? I believe there is. Don Cousins, author of Experiencing Leadershift, suggests four questions as we evaluate. I will share my thoughts with each.
Annual reviews do not have to be dreaded. They can be fulfilling and encouraging. This year, take a different approach.
If your staff member is found to be faithful, fruitful, fulfilled, and making God famous then what more would you want? God will work out everything else. I would suggest to you that you will prefer this method over what you might be doing now.
Summers serves as Lead Pastor at Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, TX.
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