Making Clergy and Staff Evaluations Useful – The Staff Leadership Learning Experience

Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle President

There are few areas of church life in which there is more variety in approach as evaluations. Some congregations use a very corporate/business-like approach, tying salary raises (or not) to specific outcomes indicated on the evaluation form. Others swing to the pendulum’s other end; pretty much basing the evaluation on how much the evaluating team likes the pastor or staff member (or not). Most engage in evaluations with an approach somewhere between these extremes, though some very fine and effective churches avoid evaluations altogether.

We have been using, and recommending, a process since 2007 which honors the need for an evaluation, while engaging the process from a learning and mission advancement perspective. This Staff Leadership Learning Experience involves multiple people from this staff member’s area of ministry, lay leadership team representatives, pastor, and others. It is an interactional approach, which results in live feedback, given in a respectful, loving yet real way. Our experience facilitating these kinds of evaluations is very encouraging; leading clergy and church staff to more fruitful ministry.

Here is the approach. Each person being evaluated gathers persons from his/her area of ministry (5-10). These people, along with the pastor, lay leaders, and the staff person gather for an hour of conversation. Before this gathering, each participant answers each question below. Then they answer them in person with the one being evaluated. Significant learning occurs. See the questions below.

1. Strengths
A. What are ____________’s greatest strengths as a leader, minister, and staff person here at _________ church?
B. What went really well in ______________’s areas of ministry here at _____ church this year?

2. Growth Areas
A. What are ______________’s growth areas as a leader, minister, and staff person here at _____ church?
B. What did not go so well in ______________’s area of ministry here at ____ church this year?

3. What major challenges are before __________ in his/her area of ministry at _____ church this coming year?
4. What does ____ church most want and/or need from ____________ during this coming year? (Group answers this one, while staff person listens)
5. What does ___________ most want and/or need from ____ church during this coming year? (Staff person answers this one, while group listens)
6. How are we willing to support ___________’s ministry in the coming year?

For a more full description of the Staff Leadership Learning Experience, contact us for a pdf. May your clergy and staff evaluation process grow more life-giving for everyone involved.

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA