What is a healthy form of pastoral evaluations?

by Jeff
(Michigan)

In the church I am currently serving (for the past 5 years), I have encountered a method of evaluation for the pastor that I have never seen or heard of in any other church.

Essentially, every member of the congregation is given the opportunity to fill out an evaluation form. The form lists several aspects of my job description and gives the member three options: "Exceeds My Expectations, Meets My Expectations, or Needs Improvement." The evaluation makes clear that if the member marks "Needs Improvement," they must explain why on the sheet. I don't necessarily have a problem with this part of the evaluation.

However, the evaluation makes clear that the member is not required to sign the form...they can remain anonymous, no matter what they write in terms of critical comments. Then, the Pastoral Relations Commission reads through all of the evaluation forms and discusses them without me present, and they prepare a "summary" of the forms which they then go over with me. I am not told the specifics of anyone's critical comments, and I am not told who submitted signed forms.

To me, this kind of evaluation process teaches congregation members to handle problems that they have without going directly to the pastor (or anyone else in the church for that matter) as we are commanded by Christ in Matthew's gospel.

Instead, in my opinion, it robs congregation members of the responsibility to address conflict openly and to be willing to listen to my side of the story. Thus, it merely allows them to feel confirmed in their own attitudes and it doesn't foster the kind of redemptive discussion that should be happening in the church.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? And could anyone share if they know of a more healthy way to deal with pastoral evaluations?

Comments for What is a healthy form of pastoral evaluations?

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Praying for you
by: Moe R.

Wow! This seems quite harsh. Some questions: What is being evaluated? What is the criteria? Since anyone in the congregation, regardless of their spiritual maturity, is allowed to fill out this form, how do you know their evaluations are of God and not Satan? Are you a pastor (who works for and is "evaluated" by God) or a politician (who works for and is evaluated by your constituency)? Are they speaking the truth in love, or is this system set up for something quite the opposite?

We have no official pastoral evaluations at our congregation. However, I am in 5 weekly bible studies and 4 weekly nursing home worship services. We are led by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord removes His presence, power and peace when I/we get off track. The Word of God evaluates us. We are called to make disciples, not fill the seats. Two totally different things.

So, how would you evaluate if the congregation as a whole is making disciples?

Met a guy who is a deacon at his church. I asked him what his responsibilities were as a deacon. He looked me right in the eye and said, "Keep an eye on you pastors." I immediately thought, though did not say, "And who is keeping an eye on you?" I got a cold chill down my spine, because the darkness and control was oozing out of him. I got the sense that he did not even know Jesus yet ... and he was making sure the pastor stayed in line?! Scary.

Long response. Sorry. Short answer: I believe you are right. This type of evaluative tool opens the door to complaining, criticizing and judging, but not healthy communication. I will pray for you, believing the Spirit will give you wisdom on dealing with this. Stay strong in the Lord, brother! His church, His burden.

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