As a consultant for Church Business Administration for a State Convention, I get this question very often. Most of the questions come when training Personnel Committees or discussing Personnel Policy and Procedure Manuals. When I get this question, I always answer with a question – who is worthy? Who could/can really give a fair evaluation of your pastor’s work? Most every church member could give their input (two cents worth), but would it be adequate and fair? No! Even an assigned group like the Personnel Committee would have difficulty in adequately and fairly assessing the work of the pastor.

What I am speaking about is Stewardship; Stewardship of the worker, as found in Matthew 13 and 25. Jesus’ teachings here reflect on expected production and investments of talents to be productive, fruitful workers. Jesus thoroughly rails against slothful, lazy, poor workmanship.

Churches should remember, when doing any evaluating, that they evaluate the WORK of the employee, NOT the employee. The periodic evaluation should fit the needs of the church. Evaluations should be done by the supervisors of personnel – which is simple in most cases; with exception to the pastor. So, who supervises the pastor? Again, I answer with a question – who is worthy?!?

This writer firmly believes everyone, including the pastor, needs to be accountable for the work they do in ministry. As ministers, we should be first accountable to God, He called us into this role and He expects us to use our best stewardship to carry out the work of ministry. Accountability works two ways in ministry between the pastor and the church, and the mission God is giving to each and every participant.

Who evaluates the pastor? Everyone does – after first evaluating themselves, and the church and its mission.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Churches need to have Vision and Purpose statements that are actualized every year. The Organization and Budget should support the Vision and Purpose.
  2. Churches need to call pastor and staff who support, and help function, the Vision and Purpose of the church.
  3. Key leadership and organizations must focus on the Vision and Purpose so all efforts are facing a common venue (Acts 2:42-47).
  4. Plan to reach the Visions and Purposes; make sure everything focuses that way.
  5. The pastor must then yearly evaluate staff and organizations to see how successful the church has been in reaching the Visions and Purposes.
  6. Yearly, the pastor reports his findings and evaluates himself and fellow church members in a “State of the Church Address” as to what kind of steward they have been. This should be evaluation enough to see past successes or future challenges.

Who evaluates the pastor? Are you a worthy steward of your church’s Vision and Purpose?!? Evaluate yourself first, evaluate the work of ministry second, and then evaluate your church as a visionary!

Most human resource specialists agree there are six responsibilities a church should take when developing an evaluation system.

  1. Develop good thorough job descriptions for all employees that outline job tasks and establishes who the supervisor of the employee is.
  2. Create logical performance standards/expectations for each of the job description items so supervisors and employees know average expectations to be performed.
  3. Have an evaluation instrument that is written in either essay, critical-incident, dimensional, behavioral, or management-by-objective format.
  4. Place evaluations on a timeline to establish balanced job performance.
  5. Discuss the evaluation from both employee and supervisor perspectives.
  6. Complete the experience by recognizing: meritorious performance, needs improvements in performance or unsatisfactory performance.

Churches have been notorious for not evaluating staff in a timeline sequence. Much of this is due to lack of supervisory understanding by the church. If the pastor is to be the supervisor of all staff, ministerial or support, then he must fulfill that duty throughout the year. If the pastor is preparing his State-of-the-Church address (see Church Staff Digest article: “Who Evaluates the Pastor…Who is Worthy?” May, 2007), then a major component is to evaluate staff and others to complete the report.

Employee evaluations should be an on-going process; good supervision congratulates good performance when it occurs and corrects less than expected performance when it is noted. Supervisors and employees should periodically review job descriptions and job performance to see if employee strengths are being realized and weaknesses being defined or re-directed. It is always important to remember to evaluate the work of the employee, not the employee. The responsibility is for the church to create the ministerial and support job descriptions that DIRECTLY correlate to the mission, vision and purpose of the church BEFORE hiring.

This writer strongly feels the management-by-objectives evaluation system works best for churches. This method mutually bonds employee with employer (church) and supervisor with the goals for a forthcoming evaluation of the accomplishment of set goals by the employee’s performance.

Evaluations deserve rewards and corrections. These can be simple within the salary scale of the job description. Churches (and other places of employment) often want the performance without reward or corrections. Reward for meritorious performance and loyalty should be more than just a cost recovery raise. Reward for meritorious work is more than a tenured raise for longevity of service. Corrections should be directive discussion, not a “chewing out” and should be supported by the expectations within the job description.