Imagine that conversation you had with an unhappy member of the congregation about the pastor’s performance. You heard a litany of complaints about what the pastor wasn’t doing. There were references to the preaching, the visitation program, the office hours, something the pastor said and a lot about what the pastor doesn’t do. There seemed to be nothing you could say that would satisfy the person you were talking to and no way to resolve the issue or to improve the situation. It was just another conversation that you’ve heard before and will hear again and again and…
There is something that can be done to break this cycle of unhappiness and frustration with the pastor’s performance, a frustration that is shared by members of the congregation and the pastor. It’s a process that is remarkably simple but in Christian congregations seldom followed.
The set of expectations for pastoral performance that could be expressed by members of any congregation are as numerous as the members. Yet those expectations are seldom expressed up front and almost never negotiated between the pastor and the leaders of the congregation in a process that results in an affirming, objective annual performance review.
Instead, expectations are assumed and the pastor can only fail to deliver the expectations that vary widely, are not expressed and seldom reviewed in any formal manner. As a result, there is frustration, misunderstanding, and disappointment for all parties in the relationship.
Here are some simple steps to follow to make the negotiation of expectations possible, productive and even fulfilling for pastor and congregation.
When you follow these steps with the involvement of the members of the congregation, there is a far greater likelihood that the expectations will be understood and accepted by all. Most important, it becomes far more likely that the pastor will be able to succeed in delivering the spiritual leadership that meets the needs of the members without pastoral burnout.
Pastors, more than people in a “normal” employment relationship work with vague sets of expectations and little or no performance reviews. The short courses “Monitoring and Mitigating Risk 402” and “Measuring Strategic Results 403” come with forms to review the relationship between the pastor and the church.
GovernanceMatters.com Inc. has also developed an audit of pastoral competencies to enable you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your pastor(s) compared to the expectations you have for pastoral leadership. Contact us for more information on how you can benefit from this diagnostic tool designed to make the relationship with your pastor productive and fulfilling.
Les Stahlke, President/CEO
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