The Pastor’s Appraisal

I recently got asked for some thoughts on what might be included in a pastor’s appraisal.  Here’s my response.

I think it’s a good thing to be asking these questions because in pastoral life:

(1) You are generally managing your own time which means you often set your own objectives

(2) Much is not measurable in the same way that an engineer, accountant etc.  The result is that the temptation is either to be very legalistic with oneself or go to the opposite extreme of not checking how you are progressing.

So, I would want to consider the following.

1.       Have specific objectives been set? In other workplace environments, the organisation has goals and the employee receiving an appraisal has objectives as a result of this. In church life, the pastor may need to take a lead in making sure they have set objectives. Think about what is within their control and what is outside of their control. 

2.       Where is the church looking to be -this might include particular goals in terms of evangelism, activities etc but would also include some kind of discussion about church health (see e.g. )

3.       From there, there’s the honest question for anyone of us “did I actually contribute to that or did it just happen?” This is so important because the world’s approach to an appraisal is to claim anything you can to go on it. That’s because the purpose of the appraisal is rarely an honest discussion but more about proving that I’m achieving enough to get my pay rise.

4.       At some point, as well I think it’s good to check in on personal things – how is family life, personal prayer life, personal evangelism.  Also, whether it’s an annual thing or maybe every couple of years some kind of check that there’s no drift theologically. This means the other elders need to be sharp themselves too!  This might include some questions that include practical pastoral application but require the person asked to go back and justify their approach doctrinally (not just can you tell me what the 3rd article in the statement of faith is?)  Also alongside this what are they reading and how is that affecting them – a balanced diet, too much emphasis from one author -chasing the obscure etc.

5.       Specifics – I’d want to focus in on how we are doing at seeing multiplication of gifts – that an important aim is to equip the church for works of service.  So are we seeing people growing and using their gifts. 

6.       Think about how they lead as well not just what they are doing and achieving. On this site we’ve talked about the dangers of leading through Legalism, Licence of Magic. Leading in those ways will result in a Guilt Driven Church.  Is the way that they lead characterised by guilt?

7.       A normal appraisal tends to be kept to a few brief questions and a short 1-1 with manager.  However, I wonder whether there isn’t a good case for the pastor himself to take a reasonable amount of time -even to block a day out from his diary to think things through?

8.       An outcome should not just be “How did they do?” looking back but also looking forward and there should be some agreement of objectives for the year ahead.