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)