Question: (and I’m not being a jerk, this is a genuine question) Is the criteria churches use to evaluate leaders biblical? AND is official evaluation the right kind of evaluation?
I know that accountability is important for church leaders… just as it is to all believers. We’re all to be sharpening each other for the edification of the body.
But I’m wondering about the measurements churches use to evaluate their leaders (and pastors in particular). I know that it makes sense for the leadership team to sit down and evaluate the pastor… but is what makes sense the right thing and the biblical thing?
I’m thinking about this because I’ve run up against some videos online and real-life situations recently that give me a knee-jerk reaction of, “That’s none of your business!”
In one of the videos I was watching, a pastor was talking about evaluating leaders based on how many non-believing friends they have and he was advocating calling those non-believing friends to make sure the leader is being good to them.
I feel like that’s going a bit too far.
1 Timothy 3: “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
I get how some of the evaluation tools churches use connect here. And I get that churches are official, organization things, and they need ways to make sure that their pastors are legit.
But I think of Pastor Pete (and my most amazing pastors of the past) and I don’t entrust myself to his leadership because there’s a team calling his non-believing neighbors to ensure he’s hospitable and has a good reputation with them. I know that Pastor Pete is hospitable because he’s been hospitable to me (I wouldn’t have ended up at Holy Cross if not for his hospitality in our first interaction) and to every person I’ve seen him interact with. I don’t yet know his reputation outside the church because there hasn’t been time, but hospitality seems to be a part of his nature; I doubt he turns it off when he’s away from his flock.
As far as temperance, prudence, gentleness, peacefulness, and all other qualifications, I know them – not because I’ve found a way to quantify and measure them – but because Pete has embodied each of them, even in the short time I’ve known him. In truth, the pastors I’ve most respected have redefined these mysterious and intangible qualities for me.
I didn’t know hospitality until Dave remembered my name, hugged me before he knew me, invited me into his home, etc…
So, I guess I’m of the opinion that you know a good pastor when you see him. Deep down in my soul, I hate the evaluation tools applied to church leaders.
It’s sort of like how I hate the 6-trait rubric for evaluating student writing. We know good writing when we see it. It stirs us, teaches us, nurtures the soul, engages… just like good pastors do.
Most good essays may have a thesis in the first paragraph, but there are bunches and bunches of examples of GREAT writers who never follow that rule.
Just like most good pastors invite people into their homes on a regular basis… yet there are bunches of examples of GREAT pastors whose hospitality manifests itself differently.
I know that not evaluating pastors at all would probably end with deceit and really weak churches, but it still irks me.
Thoughts, dear readers? What’s the biblical way of ensuring biblical church leadership?