Each year, as the leaves begin to turn, I receive requests for “the form we should use to evaluate our minister.” I don’t have a form, but I can share the excitement that my colleagues on the staff of the Iowa Conference and I have about cheering on fruitful evaluation of ministries in our congregations. The workshops and consultations we offer don’t fit into the size of an E-News message, of course, but here are a few pieces of bare outline that might be conversation starters in your congregation.
Why evaluate our ministries? Because they are offered for the glory of God. They are movements of the Body of Christ. They are worthy of our very, very best. We evaluate so that all our ministries might more and more radiantly express our congregation’s mission.
Who evaluates our ministries? All the ministers of the congregation, including the pastors and staff, the members of the congregation, the governing body, boards and committees, volunteers serving, and those touched by the ministries of the congregation. Fruitful evaluation is not anonymous.
Whose holy work is being evaluated? The holy work of all the ministers of the congregation, including the pastors and staff, the congregation’s leaders, those serving on boards and committees, volunteers and members of the congregation. We speak of evaluation of ministries rather than ministers because all the holy work of our congregations is done collaboratively. All of it.
When? All year long, not just when leaves are falling. At every meeting of the congregation’s boards, committees, and working groups. At well-publicized opportunities for conversation in the congregation. Fruitful evaluation of ministries does not begin well in the context of significant conflict. Nor does it begin well in the context of the congregation’s budgeting process.
Where? In the congregation’s space, where those evaluating ministries and those being evaluated can be together in conversation, looking into one another’s eyes.
How? With devoutly healthy communications practices. With conversations based on the congregation’s shared, well known and often repeated goals for its ministries, goals that have recognizable outcomes. (The Conference staff read our goals each time we meet!) Fruitful evaluation is appreciative, encouraging, and light powered.
I am deeply, deeply grateful for the holy work done by the congregations of the Iowa Conference, for radiant and more radiant offerings offered to the glory of God and as the movement of the Body of Christ in the communities of Iowa and beyond. I thank God for you!
—Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister