What do you think of me as a pastor? Give it to me straight. I can take it. Do you like my preaching? Are you learning anything from me? Do you trust my leadership? Do you feel like I’m aware of the church’s needs?
I’m prepared to ask my church these very questions (with some fear and trembling).
Some churches have an annual pastor call where the members come together to decide if they want to keep their pastor for another year. Angier Church, where I pastor, does not. But that doesn’t mean the church’s occasional evaluation of me is a bad idea.
One pastor, many members
The pastor has a responsibility to “feed the flock” and “oversee” the church (1 Peter 5:2). Feeding the flock alone is a daunting task. So much so, in fact, the early church appointed deacons to look after the material needs of the people so that ministers would not have to leave their study and care for the church’s spiritual needs (Acts 6:2-3).
As I’ve studied the role of pastors and teachers in the Bible, I’m convinced we expect too much out of these men at times. We’re prone to believe they are super-members rather than a particular member with a particular gift.
That aside, the church is full of members to be looked after and overseen. Each member, of course, has his/her own needs. It’s nearly impossible for the pastor to be in tune with each and every one at all times.
A pastor relies on feedback from the congregation. Unfortunately, direct feedback is not often given. Rather, we’re forced to connect the dots and learn as much as we can from subtle comments and general conversations with members.
When positive feedback comes my way, it’s typically in the form of a vague platitude. I might hear a comment like, “That was some good preaching” or “That was interesting what you taught about…”
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take positive feedback any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But there’s only so much I can do with general statements that may or may not be just that person’s way of being nice.
I always chuckle to myself when I get the impression a brother or sister in the church is trying to critique my ministry. I certainly respect them for it and there’s something to be said about their kindness, but the sugarcoating is often too thick.
One member recalls the days when he heard “good ol’ fashioned preaching” which may or may not be an indictment of my own preaching style. Another answers the phone when I call by saying, “Hey, the prodigal son returns.” I guess I haven’t called in awhile.
I mean no offense to my church. This is fairly common in pretty much every church I’ve ever known. It’s hard to be critical.
Tell me what you really think…anonymously
I’m prepared to give my church a survey this week to fill out and return to me. It will be a complete evaluation of me as their pastor. They can fill it out–without including their names–and drop it anonymously into the box I’ll provide.
Am I nervous? A little. Am I looking forward to it? Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I have no desire to merely fill the role of pastor. I want to be the pastor God called me to be and I want to know if my teaching and overseeing is where it ought to be.