- If someone needs you in a crisis (e.g. a death in the family), be there. Listen to them. Cry with them. Hold their hands. Keep the coffee coming. And if you really have to, say something to them.
- When taking a service on Sunday, honour the congregation by preparing properly. Believe me, if you stand up in the pulpit and sprout a whole lot of gobbledygook because you were too busy / tired / lazy to prepare a proper message, the congregation knows.
- Walk your talk. Remember, as a minister, you are telling people how they should live. Such messages should start with you in fromt of the mirror. Jesus never instructed His disciples to do one single thing that He had not first done Himself, and nor should we. It starts with the little things, like keeping appointments and being on time for meetings.
- Remember that the congregation lives in the same economy that you do, and if you are feeling the pinch, believe me - so are they. So go easy on things like telephones, electricity, stationery, etc. You normally don't have to pay for these things - your congregants do. It's a privilege for you to be accommodated and paid a stipend through the generosity of people who themselves are battling to make ends meet. Never abuse this privilege.
- Finally, keep your ears open and your gob shut. Members of congregations will entrust you with all sorts of private stuff, which is on a "need to know" basis. In 99.99% of cases, no-one else needs to know.
Now I don't know about any other minister out there, but believe me, I would want to know how I am doing in each of these areas. And with the greatest respect to whoever my future Superintendent is likely to be, he/she is one of the last people who is likely to find out, unless the Society Stewards report me. The District Bishop is even less likely to find out what kind of minister I am, unless I blow it so badly that charges are laid against me!
However, the congregants will know. And the Society Stewards, especially so!
So I want to do something that may seem radical to some. I've never seen this happen in a church context before. And some may believe I am potentially setting myself up for a fall.
What I want to do is to devise a performance review document for a minister, which I intend to hand to Society Stewards for the purposes of evaluating me. Because this is still an idea at this stage, my thinking is that it will be in the form of a questionnaire, with either "yes / no" answers or ratings on a scale of 1 - 5. Each question will have space underneath to provide comments.
Some examples of such questions could be as follows:
- When Rev Jones conducts a worship service, do you believe that the content of his message brings the congregation closer to God? (Y / N, elaborate)
- How do you rate Rev Jones' relationship with (a) the church leadership, (b) the congregation, (c) visitors, (d) outsiders? (scale of 1 - 5, elaborate)
- Do you believe that Rev Jones exercises prudence when it comes to the use of church resources (Y / N, elaborate)
The intention is to group the questions into appropriate categories - these can include the ones listed above (my views on what congregations expect from their minister), and/or other frameworks (e.g. the Four Mission Imperatives).
I am therefore calling on experienced ministers to provide me with feedback as to appropriate criteria on which a minister can be evaluated. Comments can be posted on this blog.