The College of Baptist Ministers, of which I am Treasurer, has been working on a pattern for an annual review of ministry which we wish to advocate to churches and ministers. Here is the current draft – all comments welcome.
INTRODUCTION TO AN ANNUAL REVIEW OF MINISTRY
Many Ministers already benefit from an Annual Review of their Ministry. To avoid overtones of employment, management or performance, we describe the process as Review and not as Appraisal. In response to requests, CBM offers these Guidelines for a suggested process for an Annual Review of Ministry as one aid to becoming the best ministers we can be.
In his book, Living Out The Call (see Book 1 page 42) Paul Beasley-Murray quotes the following theological basis for Ministry Review from the United Methodist Church of America.
“Evaluation is natural to the human experience. Evaluation is one of God’s ways of bringing the history of the past into dialogue with the hope for the future. Without confession of sin there is no reconciliation; without the counting of blessings there is no thanksgiving; without the acknowledgement of accomplishments there is no celebration; without awareness of potential there is no hope; without hope there is no desire for growth; without desire for growth the past will dwarf the future. We are called into new growth and new ministries by taking a realistic and hopeful look at what we have been and what we can still become. Surrounded by God’s grace and the crowd of witnesses in the faith, we can look at our past unafraid and from its insights eagerly face the future with new possibilities.
They suggest that a periodic Review of Ministry will help Ministers in at least the following ways.
- to affirm their gifts, achievements and personality;
- to step back and take stock (especially with reference to previous goals and unexpected happenings);
- to reflect on (a) their personal aspirations and needs; (b) their effectiveness in their daily work;
- to improve skills, insights and gifts;
- to identify areas for profession and personal development;
- to recognise challenges, identify achievable goals and determine appropriate strategies for future action.”
So an Annual Review can affirm the Minister and say “well done”. It can support the Minister in their calling and personal life. It can review previously set objectives and set future goals. It can provide a safe environment for discussing problems and, where necessary, to express dissatisfaction by either minister or church. It can identify training needs and at the same time new opportunities. Yet the purpose of the Review is not only to consider things which the Minister might approach differently but also to explore ways in which the church might do things differently, and not least ways in which Church and Leadership can share the tasks of ministry and affirm and support the Minister more effectively. The Review of Ministry should be a positive process. If there is any element of criticism then it should be constructive criticism with the well-being of the Minister and of the Church in mind.
Ministers rightly consider themselves accountable to God. We are servants of Christ, not servants of the church. A Review of Ministry, roughly every year and timed not to clash with major events in the Christian Year or the Church programme, is an appropriate way to express that accountability, but for that to be most effective CBM strongly recommend that an external Facilitator is invited to bring their experience and wisdom and steer the Review process.
SUGGESTED ROLE OF THE FACILITATOR
The Facilitator will be a person with understanding and direct experience of Christian ministry who would carry the full confidence of both minister and church leadership.
The Facilitator will ensure that both Minister and Leadership have understood each other correctly. He/she will help the Leadership to understand the unique challenges of ministry in order better to support the Minister. At the same time help the Facilitator will help the Minister to appreciate any concerns the Leadership might express. The Facilitator is not there to inspect, appraise or evaluate the ministry in any sense.
The Facilitator will help Minister and Leadership together to discern priorities, explore ways forward and identify appropriate outcomes for any issues.
One understandable anxiety of ministers is that a Review of Ministry could be a tool which the Church or Church Leadership could use to micro-manage the minister. The Facilitator will be responsible for ensuring that the Minister is always seen and treated as an Office Holder and not as an employee. The Facilitator is there to make sure that the Minister will find the Review to be a safe and enriching process.
A PROCESS FOR AN ANNUAL REVIEW OF MINISTRY
- Appointment of an appropriate external Facilitator acceptable both to the Minister and to the Church Leadership.
- The church Leadership (e.g. Elders, Deacons or Trustees) will appoint one or two of their number to attend the Review Meeting with the Minister and the Facilitator.
- Review Questionnaire – possible questions/topics we can include are suggested below.
- Minister completes a Review Questionnaire which will be confidential to the Facilitator.
- The member(s) of the Church Leadership who are appointed to attend the Review Meeting also submit a more brief single response to the Review Questionnaire which will be confidential to the Facilitator. Those who will attend the Review Meeting may informally canvas other members of the Leadership for their comments. However it would not be appropriate for the Leadership to hold a formal “pre-Review” meeting to discuss their response.
- The Facilitator seeks clarification on any issues arising from the Review Questionnaires if necessary.
- The Facilitator draws up the agenda for the Review Meeting and circulates.
- The Facilitator chairs the Review Meeting which will last no more than two hours, involving herself/himself, the Minister and the delegated member(s) of the Leadership Team. At that meeting it will not be appropriate for the Leadership representative(s) to raise any issues for discussion which the Facilitator has not included on the agenda. It would be very unfair for that meeting to contain any surprises. The Facilitator will however be free to raise issues not mentioned by Minister or Leadership if he/she is led to do so.
- Facilitator offers a draft summary Review Report from the Review Meeting to the Minister. This will list topics discussed but the focus will be on agreed outcomes and next steps.
- After the Minister has responded to the draft, the Facilitator sends the finalised summary Review Report to the Leadership Team. This will be the only feedback from the meeting to the wider Leadership Team – all discussion in the meeting itself will remain confidential to those present. The Review will be confidential to the Minister and Leadership Team – any of its content will only be shared with the wider church with the full agreement of the Minister.
- The Facilitator or the Minister will inform their Regional Minister that the Review has taken place, The Minister may choose to send their RM a copy of the Review Report, or may choose not to, and nothing should be inferred from the Minister’s choice in that regard either way.
MINISTRY REVIEW QUESTIONNAIRE
A variety of possibilities are available. The Baptist Union is developing a form for Ministry Review and Ministers may choose to use that form. If Ministers wish to consider an alternative, CBM commends the outline below. In addition to the Review Questionnaire, the Minister will provide the Facilitator (and possibly, at the Minister’s choice, the Leadership Representatives) with an up-to-date copy of their Continuing Ministerial Development Portfolio. Whatever form is used, it should be expected that completing the Review Questionnaire should only require a few hours work, although Ministers should feel free to write more if they find it helpful to do so. The Questionnaire’s primary purpose should be to inform the Agenda for the Review Meeting, rather than provide a comprehensive record of the ministry of the previous year.
Suggested Pattern of a Review Questionnaire taken from Paul Beasley-Murray’s book, Living Out The Call
- Statement of purpose: “With all the other members of the ministry team, to excite fresh hope and faith in God, encouraging God’s people to embrace others with love of another kind, enabling individuals to change and grow, and empowering the church for witness and service. With all the other members of the ministry team, to implement the mission policy of the church as agreed in the church’s development plan. To……” [The basis of this should be the job specification given to you]
- Review of last year’s objectives and general review of last year. This is your opportunity to give an account of yourself. What, with God’s help, did you achieve? What has encouraged you? What has frustrated you?
- Review of last year’s training and development: Courses you have attended; books you have read etc. How have you grown as a disciple of Jesus? How have you developed as a leader in God’s church?
- Key objectives for the coming year: These objectives will need to be agreed and should link with the church’s priorities.
- Standards of performance: What did you feel you did well? What could have been done better?
- Development plans: How do you hope to grow and develop as a leader in God’s church over the next 12 months?
- Further long-term development: What are your long-term goals?
(Living Out The Call 1, 45)
Ministers may wish to address other questions as well. Issues to consider could include spirituality, relationships with God and with family, physical and emotional well-being, work-life balance, hopes and fears for the future and longer term aims, levels of satisfaction and fulfilment, and indeed anything which the Minister wishes to use the Review process to raise with the church in the presence of the Facilitator.
The College of Baptist Ministers warmly commends this practice of an Annual Review of Ministry to all Ministers.
CBM Board: Paul Beasley-Murray, Paul Goodliff, Stephen Asibuo, Peter Thomas October 2016