I’m currently reading a book entitled, When Better Isn’t Enough. Evaluation Tools for the 21st-Century Church. The author is Jill M. Hudson and the publisher is The Alban Institute. The title is a bit of a misnomer and could more accurately be, Performance Evaluation for the 21st-Century Church. New Criteria for Ministers and Church Leaders. But with a title like that, why would ministers be interested in reading the book? After all, as all members of the clergy know from often-poor experience, performance evaluation, review, or whatever you wish to call it falls under the rubric of, “Never put off today what you can put off forever.”
Hudson lays out 12 criteria for evaluation. They are, the ability to:
- maintain personal, professional, and spiritual balance.
- motivate and develop the congregation to be a “mission outpost”.
- guide a transformational faith experience.
- develop and communicate a vision.
- interpret and lead change.
- promote and lead spiritual formation for church members.
- provide leadership for high-quality, relevant worship experiences.
- identify, develop and support lay leaders.
- build, inspire, and lead a staff/volunteer team.
- manage conflict.
- navigate successfully the world of technology; and,
- posses the ability and desire to be a lifelong learner.
Look at these questions! They reflect a vision of ideal attributes of a 21st-Century church. Hudson’s insight is that most evaluations are still rooted in the needs of a 20th century church and her book is about guiding lay leaders and clergy to work collaboratively on assessing their joint performance based on new criteria that better reflect the work of today’s church.
Hudson’s insight is true for the Jewish community as well. From what I’ve seen and heard, most synagogue evaluations are also stuck in a bygone era. Over the next year, my hope is to conduct some research on how congregations evaluate rabbis. I can use your help as I begin to explore this topic and would love you to respond to the questions in my Evaluating Rabbinic and Congregational Performance Survey.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Rabbi Hayim Herring