Sunday, April 25, 2010


The slide show below from Jonathan Taylor gives some good pointers on moving through change and tradition in urban communities. Click on the arrows to change slides.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Geoff Surratt has recently published a book entitled “Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing.” In an interview about the book, (Click here for interview)Surratt listed ten things he would do differently if he were starting over again in ministry:

1. Preparing others to do the work of the ministry rather than trying to do most of the ministry myself.

2. Finding the right balance between family and ministry

3. Focusing on having an outstanding weekend worship experience

4. Creating compelling environments for children's ministry

5. Emphasizing integrity rather than just talent in developing new leaders

6. Being willing to move the church if it wasn't in the right location for the mission of that local congregation

7. Finding God's unique expression of ministry rather than closely copying what another successful church is doing

8. Always working for reconciliation in conflict rather than defaulting to discipline

9. Avoiding any conflict of interest when pursuing any business opportunities outside of the church

10. Building healthy teams rather than getting bogged down with endless committees

Makes sense to me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


May God bless each of you during this holy season with the joyous promise of life and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Because He lives, we live and have hope for this life and the life to come.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A Book Review of Dan Hotchkiss’ Governance and Ministry

Books on governance and structure for Christian congregations will often present a “how-to” plan for a certain set of by-laws and governing documents or a theory of governance borrowed from the business world but not quite tested in congregations. Dan Hotchkiss in his book, Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2009), manages to combine missional theology, organizational know-how and practical experience into a volume that will be of help to both parish leaders and congregational consultants. It is a book that is written by a man who knows what he is talking about through his work with a multitude of congregations over many years. He seems, at times, to anticipate your questions, and his chapters are full of both wisdom and caveats for congregations of all sizes.

Hotchkiss recognizes from the beginning that “organized religion” is an oxymoron, yet our revolutionary faith must be set forth in an ordered way. He calls governance an art to be practiced rather than simply a skill to be learned. “Leaders must continually balance the conserving function of an institution with the expectation of disruptive, change-inducing creativity that comes when individuals peek past the temple veil and catch fresh visions of the Holy.”

The book does not offer a particular model of governance and structure. Indeed, the author contends that there is no one right way to organize a congregation, but he does offer a framework in which congregations can make choices within the general concepts of governance (setting direction, values, plans) and ministry (the day-to-day practical work of the congregation.)

Theory is set forth in terms that are easily understood by the average person. More importantly, theory is applied in practical ways that will be of help to any congregation. Hotchkiss declares that when it comes to governance, size does, indeed, matter, and he makes it clear that most of the observations in the book apply to congregations in the “pastoral” size range (50-150 in worship), but he displays a knowledge of large congregations, and especially “family size” congregations (50 or less in worship) that I have seldom found elsewhere. Any pastor serving a small congregation and thinking about restructuring needs to read this book! Small congregations just can’t be governed in the same way as mid-sized congregations, but they can distinguish governance and ministry roles for the sake of God’s mission.

Again and again, practical guidance is the forte of this book in chapters that deal with such subjects as…

  • Effective Evaluation of pastor, staff and board.
  • Budgeting for mission in difficult times.
  • Board covenants and norms.
  • Dealing with conflict.
  • Money and mission.

The book is a good read for both congregational leaders and congregational consultants.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to Evaluate Pastor and Staff

When I was District President I would frequently get calls from congregational leaders asking for help in evaluating their pastor. Often, but not always, that would be a sign of conflict that demanded conflict resolution rather than help with evaluation. And when evaluation was done, it was often done in retrospect against standards and goals that were not discussed or agreed upon at the beginning of the evaluation period.

Dan Hotchkiss, in his book Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, (Herndon, VA, Alban Institute, 2009), gives certain principles for effective evaluation.

Effective evaluation of the pastor or other staff members is …

  • Scheduled: Evaluation takes place by the calendar, not in response to problems.
  • Mutual: Everyone gives and receives feedback.
  • Goal-centered: Previously established goals are the basis for evaluation.
  • Individual: “Am I meeting the expected standard for my job?” “How am I contributing to our goals?”
  • Collective: “What progress have we made towards our goals?” “How do we need to adjust our course?” “How are we fulfilling our vision for this particular program area?”
  • Backward looking: “What did I accomplish?” “How well did we do?”
  • Forward looking: “How can I improve?” “What should we do differently next time?”

The key, of course, to any effective evaluation is the ability to set both personal and congregational goals. A staff member cannot be evaluated unless there is a clear and realistic understanding of what that staff member is expected to do, and that depends, to a large extent, upon what the congregation sees as its mission.

Some good advice on setting personal performance plans and goals may be found on the “mindtools” website. (Click Here)