“That just doesn’t seem really healthy to me. I mean, if I had my supervisors giving me a performance review every week I would probably go insane,” said a concerned youth leader of mine. He was referring to a loosely structured meeting I would have weekly with a couple of my youth leaders. His understanding was that this was mostly to review and talk about the previous week. (Actually it’s to just do some “heads-up” for the coming week.) But all of this got me thinking about how, in a sense, my friend was right. Pastors can be really unhealthy in this way.
That meeting may not have been a performance review, but I think that something like a performance review happens weekly for many pastors. The reason being: we have a weekly event which is usually looked at as “the main event.” It’s when our preparation, our study, our phone calls, and our promotion all come to a head and we have our 2 hours of face time with our people and possible new comers.
Now think of this in most other jobs. An event where everyone gathers together to talk and be motivated to action. The moment you’ve been building up towards. The moment where hours of study and preparation meet the intended audience. That moment probably comes bi-annually or quarterly or maybe even monthly. But chances are an event of this magnitude and importance wouldn’t necessarily happen weekly.
So it’s not likely that you’d need to review performance weekly. But we do that in the church all the time!
How was this past week’s message? How was the worship this last Sunday? How did the flow work out in our last service? How did new comers feel this past Sunday?
• You can quickly adjust what doesn’t work.
• You can quickly celebrate what does work.
• You’re no sooner “coming down” from doing the service than you’re already evaluating it.
• It can really demotivate individuals and teams to take the time to nitpick every week what could be better.
• Constantly stopping to evaluate can really cut down on people doing the actual work that needs to be done.
So what’s a possible better option for pastors and church leaders? Evaluate monthly.
We love doing sermon series in our youth ministry. So maybe the better option is looking back and saying, “How did this past series go?” rather than “How did this week go?” It allows you to try new things and go for it and then look back at a whole month and see how it went.
It also can keep you from canning something just because it didn’t work one week, because you gave it a 4-5 week trial run. And it keeps your focus a bit more on the big picture rather than on the little one.
If my friend and leader was right, most other jobs wouldn’t dream of having to go through any type of performance review on a weekly basis. Maybe it’s worth considering evaluating how we evaluate in the church world!