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The Challenge of Assessment Part 1: Clergy Assessment


The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere District Executive, Ohio-Meadville District * * * * * Resources Resource Library Assessment Tools http://www ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Challenge of Assessment Part 1: Clergy Assessment

The Challenge of Assessment Part 1 Clergy
  • The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere
  • District Executive, Ohio-Meadville District

Chalice Lighting
  • Introductions
  • Why Do We Do Assessment
  • What Do We Assess and When
  • When Not To Do Assessment
  • How Not To Do Assessment
  • Core Elements
  • Considerations/Difficulties in Clergy Assessment
  • Introducing Models of Assessment
  • Resources

  • The focus tonight is on Clergy assessment.
  • We will offer Congregational assessment later in
  • We will discuss some special considerations
    the context for clergy assessment .
  • And we will briefly introduce some of the more
    successful, useful models for assessment.

Why We Do Assessment
  • To provide feedback for growth,
  • learning and development
  • A tool for planning
  • To measure and document
  • progress toward a goal
  • To understand strengths
  • (to build on them) and weaknesses (to address
  • To provide insight into the dynamics of a system
  • To foster congregational and clergy health

What Do We Assess and When?
  • Effective assessment is continual and provides a
    constant feedback or learning loop based on
  • Events and activities
  • Group functions
  • Processes, policies, procedures
  • Staff performance
  • Leadership effectiveness
  • System health

What Do We Assess and When?
  • It is ok to judge activities, events, and
  • It is not ok to judge people in the same manner
  • Guard against blaming people
  • Systems get the results they are designed to
  • Relationships determine behavior
  • My behavior influences you yours
  • Influences me
  • If you get unsatisfactory results,
  • change the system

When Not To Do Assessment
  • In the midst of conflict
  • Close to budget time (budget time raises anxiety
  • Outside of an expected schedule (no sudden
  • Following a crisis or major change in the
    congregations life
  • Following a crisis or major change in the
    ministers life

How Not To Do Assessment
  • Using theological issues as performance criteria
  • Using a business performance model
  • Using a laundry lists of complaints usually
    minor ones as the basis for assessment.
  • In response to the loudest (most anxious) voice
    in the room

How Not To Do Assessment
  • Assessment is not Evaluation
  • Evaluation is an act of determining value.
  • Assumes existing standard criteria against which
    such judgment is made.
  • Presumes an authoritative, knowledgeable judge,
    able to apply the criteria in an objective
  • Even in the physical world, this is debatable.
  • In relational world, such claims are suspect.
  • A determination of merit or demerit.
  • A justification for reward or punishment.

The Reasons We Fear Evaluation
Core Elements
  • Basic Concerns of an Assessment
  • 1. What did we set out to do? (expectations)
  • 2. What actually happened? (outcomes)
  • 3. What have we learned?
  • (surprises, disappointments, confirmation)
  • 4. What shall we do next, now that we know
  • (new plans, future goals)

Core Elements
Core Elements
  • Expectations
  • What were our plans?
  • Did we set a date for completion?
  • Did we have the tools necessary?
  • Were our plans consistent with our values and
  • Where our plans realistic?

Core Elements
  • Outcomes
  • What actually happened to our plans.
  • What worked well?
  • What did not quite live up to our expectations?
  • What did we fail to anticipate?

Core Elements
  • Learnings
  • Do we need to work our plan further?
  • Are there improvements we can name?
  • What corrections are needed?
  • Did we have proper resources?
  • What obstacles did we not see?
  • Do we need to support staff in new ways?
  • Do we need new objectives?

Core Elements
  • Intentional Goal Setting (for the future)
  • What strengths can we use better?
  • What new conditions have arisen?
  • What new tools or resources do we need?
  • Should we drop some of our plans?
  • What matters most now?

Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of
  • Ministry is an art, not a technology nor a
  • Life is just a chance to grow a soul. A. Powell
  • Our business To grow human beings into the
    best they can be
  • Ministry is a shared responsibility of the
    clergy and the congregation. Cant do it alone.
  • Ministry is a reciprocal relationship with

Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of
  • External standards to consider
  • The Principles of Unitarian Universalism.
  • Covenants of Right Relationship.
  • Unitarian Universalists Ministers Association
    Professional Code of Conduct.

  • United in our call to serve the spirit of love
    and justice through the vocation of ministry in
    the liberal religious tradition, we, the members
    of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers
    Association, covenant with one another
  • To conduct ourselves with integrity, honoring the
    trust placed in us
  • To embody in our lives the values that we
    proclaim on behalf of our faith
  • To support one another in collegial respect and
    care, understanding and honoring the diversity
    within our association
  • To hold ourselves accountable to each other for
    the competent exercise of our vocation

  • To use our power constructively and with
    intention, mindful of our potential unconsciously
    to perpetuate systems of oppression
  • To seek justice and right relations according to
    our evolving collective wisdom, and to refrain
    from all abuse or exploitation
  • To cultivate practices of deepening awareness,
    understanding, humility, and commitment to our
  • To labor earnestly together for the well being of
    our communities and the progress of Unitarian
  • Through fidelity to this covenant and our Code of
    Professional Conduct, we aspire to grow in
    wholeness, and bring hope and healing to the

Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of
  • Ministry is captive to its times and at odds with
    its times.
  • Ministers are recipients of legitimate and
    delusional dependency and counter-dependency
  • Ministers serve the faith - while being paid by
    the congregation.

Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of
  • Ministers are consultants to congregational
    leadership, pastors to the leaders, and
    accountable to them for job performance.
  • No minister can be good at everything expected

Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of
  • Ministry a mixture of contradictory ambitions
  • The consoling pastor vs. the challenging teacher.
  • Apologist for faith vs. the challenger of status
  • The preacher vs. the good listener.
  • The institutional manager vs. institutional
    change agent and leader.
  • Trusted friend vs. judge of ethical living.

Effective Ministry is a Relationship
  • An effective minister
  • Radiates Trustworthiness.
  • Demonstrates appropriate responsiveness.
  • Accessible and available.
  • A Presence in congregation and members
  • Manifests respect for all members.
  • Is able to show breadth and depth of caring for
  • Honors commitments, keeps promises, is truthful.
  • Wears the role well the membership is proud.

Effective Ministry is a Relationship
  • An effective minister takes care of her/himself
  • Honors ones own sabbath.
  • Honors the family, balancing work and home life.
  • Keeps healthy, physically, emotionally, mentally,
  • Sets appropriate boundaries with member
  • Has a life outside the congregation.
  • Dresses appropriately. Is drug free. Is clean.
  • Manages time and own money well.
  • Honors the UUMA Code of Conduct.

The 4 Tasks of Effective Ministry
  • Preacher
  • Pastor
  • Promoter
  • Prophet

The Tasks of Effective Ministry
  • Preacher
  • Prepares and delivers sermons well.
  • Conducts an attractive and timely service.
  • Balances sermon themes well.
  • Empowers members faith development.
  • Honors the free pew and
  • Responsibly maintains the free pulpit.

The Tasks of Effective Ministry
  • Pastor
  • Demonstrates an ability to appropriately care
    for members.
  • Recognizes the limits of ability in counseling
  • Knows how to touch base with members.
  • Timely and responsive to members in times of
  • Visitation to the sick and shut-in.
  • Present during crisis.
  • Simply available.
  • Manages well the intimacy and dependency
  • Maintains clear ethical boundaries.

The Tasks of Effective Ministry
  • Promoter of Congregational Life
  • Is present to what matters to members.
  • Actively nurtures deeper member to member
  • Supports and attends member social activities
    to promote community.
  • Coaches the congregation on right relationship.
  • Manifests an understanding of congregational
    dynamics and ability to teach leadership to the
  • Provides the Board and Committee chairs
    appropriate consultation regarding
  • Church management, risk assessment, office
  • stewardship and financial management.
  • Connects to the larger Unitarian Universalist
  • Fulfills duties the Board delegates to the
  • Advises the Board on emerging issues in a
    timely fashion.
  • With leaders, ensures the fiduciary
    responsibilities of the congregation are met.

The Tasks of Effective Ministry
  • Prophet
  • Properly uses the pulpit or teaching venues to
    call members to a vision of justice.
  • Is present to local and national issues and
    bears witness to Unitarian Universalist values in
    those settings.
  • Maintains active participation in District and
    Association events.

Five Assessment Models
  • Continuous Assessment.
  • Quarterly Assessment.
  • Understanding Our Ministry Together
  • Gather the Spirit.
  • Reflecting on Ministry.

Five Assessment Models
  • submitted by UU ministers and reviewed by CENTER
  • web describes origin, context, benefits and
    challenges and full process of each model
  • include continuous, quarterly, biennial,
    annual assessment timetables
  • include various kinds of input self-assessment,
    small groups, committees, specific individuals
  • focus on Qualitative measures (effectiveness) and
    not Quantitative (how many new members last
  • see http//

Assessment Best Practices
  • keep it simple
  • assess more often, more narrowly if necessary
  • obtain agreement that the process is fair
  • distinguish public vs. private elements
  • advise the congregation of assessment
  • ask the staff person to do a self-assessment
  • utilize a small assessment team to lead the work
  • limit the number of open-ended questions
  • advise the congregation of results summary
  • See UUMA website for a full description

Another View of Best Practices
  • Ian Evison, Congregational Services Director,
    Central Midwest District, Unitarian Universalist
    Association on Ministerial Evaluation.
  • Evaluate against goals.
  • Do not tie directly to determining compensation.
  • Collaborate.
  • Evaluate the minister in the context of the whole
    congregations ministry.
  • Take the time this needs.
  • Agree what use will be made of the evaluation.
  • Focus on Strengths not Weaknesses.
  • No anonymous feedback.
  • Less is more.
  • Do it yearly.
  • Keep it simple.

Continuous Assessment
  • a continuous feedback process to build a
    learning congregation,
  • always expanding the breadth /depth of its
  • regularly assessing internal external
  • responding to change within or without with
  • gathers small items of information and reviews
    them on a regular basis
  • promotes improvements/changes in ministry
    effectiveness, new programs and ministries
    throughout the year
  • effective if part of the congregations culture

Continuous Assessment
  • Possible questions after event or activities
  • How did it go?
  • What helped? What worked well?
  • What got in the way? What hindered engagement?
  • Suggestions for next time?
  • Personal feedback questions
  • What were your expectations?
  • What was most relevant to you?
  • What will you retain in a months time?
  • How can this event help your spiritual growth?
  • What additional learning would you like?

Quarterly Assessment
  • a variation of the Continuous Assessment Model
  • regularly gathers feedback focused on a series of
    specific ministry areas or topics.
  • it relies on the establishment of a schedule for
    quarterly assessment work.
  • typical questions are noted in the model on the
    UUMA website
  • can be used with small focus groups or with

Quarterly Assessment
  • Application of Quarterly
  • Congregational Assessment Model
  • Quarterly Town Meeting conversations
  • Board invites a small focus group to a
    conversation on an area of ministry.
  • Choose a small set of appreciative inquiry
  • Create the culture of routinely assessing some
    aspect of the ministry.
  • Do one every quarter, leading to a rotating

Quarterly Assessment
  • Suggested Topics for Quarterly Assessment Two
    Year Cycle
  • Worship
  • Spiritual Discernment Adults
  • Children's Religious Education
  • Creating the Beloved Community
  • Social Justice Witness
  • Guest Relations
  • Board Management
  • Fiscal Management
  • Mission/Vision

Understanding Our Ministry Together
  • employs small focus groups and an adaptable set
    of questions to assess holistically the
    effectiveness of the congregation, lay leaders
    and minister(s).
  • fosters the understanding that the minister and
    the congregation function as a ministry team.
  • Positive strengths areas of growth for both
    congregation and minister are explored.

Gather The Spirit
  • based on the covenant between the minister and
    the congregation using Appreciative Inquiry
  • ability to tailor the questions and conversations
    for processing the feedback
  • makes use of feedback from a variety of people
  • looks for patterns from multiple perspectives
    and perceptions
  • Committee on Ministry organizes the process
  • incorporates ministers self assessment in the
  • can include as many as 20-30 respondents

Reflecting On Ministry
  • comprehensive and holistic, focus on shared
  • societal change affects our expectations of
  • presents a series of 12 characteristics to help
    measure effective ministry in a time of changing
  • tools for self assessment small group
  • describes the place of each characteristic in
    effective modern ministry.
  • offers variations for senior minister,
    congregation, associate ministers, congregational
    leaders, volunteers and more.
  • offers methods for creating effective action

Reflecting On Ministry
  • twelve characteristics of effective 21st century
  • 1. Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Balance
  • 2. Guide a Transformational Faith Experience
  • 3. Motivate and Develop Congregations Mission
  • 4. Develop and Communicate a Vision
  • 5. Interpret and Lead Change
  • 6. Promote and Lead Spiritual Formation for
  • 7. Provide Leadership for High-Quality, Relevant
  • 8. Identify, Develop, and Support Lay Leaders
  • 9. Build, Inspire, and Lead a Staff/Volunteer
  • 10. Manage Conflict
  • 11. Navigate Successfully the World of Technology
  • 12. Desire to be a Lifelong Learner

  • Resources Resource Library Assessment
    Tools http//
  • Jill M. Hudson, When Better Isnt Enough
    Evaluation Tools for the 21st Century Church
    Alban Institute
  • UUMA Guidelines http//
  • Gil Rendle, Making Pastoral Evaluation
    Worthwhile Alban Institute, http//
  • McKinsey Companys Capacity Assessment
    Grid, http//
    learning/reports/capacity/assessment.pdf (great
    for congregational and clergy assessment.)

  • Questions?

  • Thank you for being here today!

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