Does your church have a formal process by which the pastors can receive feedback about their ministry? The board at my church has asked that the pastors go through a “pastoral feedback” process at the time of our contract renewal. Based on our discussion in the board meeting and my further reading, I wanted to share a few thoughts about this topic. Then I will share with you the pastoral feedback form that I designed.
Types of Feedback/Review
There are (at least) three different types of feedback or review that involve a pastor. It is important to understand the nature and purpose of each:
- Overall Ministry Review
This is a comprehensive review of the church and its ministries. The strengths and weaknesses of each ministry is evaluated and areas for improvement are discussed. The pastor has some responsibility for these outcomes as a leader, but he is not personally responsible for the success of the church. This review should be seen as a performance review of the entire team of leaders and co-workers, and they should ask “How can we (not just the pastor) improve our ministry.” In the English Ministry at my church, we periodically use our Core Values Statement as a tool for evaluating our ministries.
- Pastoral Performance Review
This is a performance review similar to the “annual review” that a company does of its employees. Not all churches do a performance review, but if it is done it should be based on a clearly written job description. The focus is on whether or not the pastor adequately performed the tasks for which he was hired. The performance review should be initiated and directed by whoever is responsible for supervising the pastor’s ministry. Many churches feel that this type of process is too “secular” to use with pastors.
- Pastoral Feedback Process
This is a way for pastors to receive honest feedback about their life and ministry in order to promote further growth. It is for the personal benefit of the pastor and is not used as a factor in the contract renewal decision. Unlike the performance review, this process is initiated and directed by the pastor.
It is imported to distinguish between these three different processes, because each one has a distinct purpose. On this point, an excellent article on this topic had this to say:
The difference between administrative and personal-growth reviews can be summarized using two basic questions: “Who owns the data?” and “Who controls the process?” If the answer to both questions is “Someone other than the pastor,” it is an administrative evaluation, and the group that evaluates needs to know that the pastor is not going to learn much. What pastors learn from administrative evaluations is how to protect themselves from humiliation in the presence of key congregational leaders.
If the process is not properly designed, or combines elements from these different types of reviews or feedback, then it is likely that it will not provide helpful results.
The Feedback Form
I searched for useful feedback forms on line and could only find a few, so I set out to design my own form. I collected questions from two forms that seemed useful, and then added questions of my own from two sources. First, I added questions regarding the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), because this is a good description of the character of a mature Christian. This would be inappropriate in a performance review, but very useful in a feedback process. Second, I added some questions based on the biblical qualifications for elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). These were included because in Scripture the usual term for the spiritual leader of a church is “elder,” and the terms “pastor,” “elder,” and “overseer” are used interchangeably. Interestingly, only one qualification is performance oriented. The rest have to do with character.
Download my Pastoral Feedback Form (click to view it, or right click and select “Save link as” to download the file) If you use it, please give me your feedback so that I can improve the form.
Whom should you ask to fill out the form? I suggest that you select a few people who know you well, are familiar with your ministry, and can be objective. You should not choose those who are very critical towards you nor those who might have a tendency to idolize you (as tempting as that might be). What you want is honest feedback from those who care about you and want to help you to grow. I also suggest choosing people of a variety of ages and backgrounds and both genders.
Do you agree with what I have written above? What are your own experiences? Post a comment below and join in the discussion.