evaluation clipboardAccountability seems to be the buzz word following the 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.  More specifically, I have heard a call for more accountability from those in the higher rungs of our hierarchical system.  The attention on bishops and cabinet members draw attention to a hunger for shared responsibility for the outcome of our work together. 

In that vein of shared responsibility, I would like to humbly submit the idea of a 360 evaluation system  for those in higher levels of leadership.  This is a form of evaluation has been used in the government sector for a while.  Lately, a surge of entrepreneurs seeking out this method has caused several websites catering entrepreneurial crowd to post free examples.

I believe that ministry in the future will look more entrepreneurial, dreamers bringing into reality what they feel God is leading them to do.  Therefore, following entrepreneurial trends is time well spent if our goal is to thrive in this post modern environment.  The idea of a 306 evaluation invites everyone that works elbow to elbow, day in and day out with an individual to reflect upon the work of the individual and give criticism. Let’s take a look at 360 evaluations and their potential role in revitalization.

My example today will be the position of the District Superintendent.  It has long been a mystery of how a D.S. is evaluated beyond the whispers of the district pastor’s meeting and rolled eyes or handshakes at an annual conference.  Does a D.S. receive instruction or correction?  Do they have specific goals to meet?  Year after year, what justifies a D.S. to return to his or her post?  A 360 evaluation gives a supervisor ample information to address these issues with a D.S.

evaluation cartoon

Keeping to the idea of the Methodist hierarchy, the D.S.’s supervisor is the Bishop.  Let us assume that the Bishop is responsible for creating his/her own evaluation criterion.  The process of creating that criterion would best be served if outside sources were tapped; perhaps human resource professionals and other bishops.  This creative synergy would help the bishop tailor the myriad of evaluative information to fit his or her conferences needs and his/her vision of ministry.  The final product would reveal what the bishop values in a D.S., the bishop’s expectations, and the D.S.s place in the overall ministry vision at the district and conference level.I would suggest gathering information from laypeople, clergy and staff members that regularly work with the D.S.  A random choice of lay people that work with the D.S. on a board or action group, any clergy in the district and any conference or district staff is a good place to start.  The Bishop may tap as many sources of information as he or she prefers but, to ensure fairness, I would suggest a random selection. 


Each group would receive an evaluation form (created by the bishop) and the results would be used to evaluate the D.S.’s work.

The D.S. would receive the same paperwork as a self evaluation with an addition.  This addition would invite the D.S. to outline goals for the upcoming year, highlight progress from the past year and identify ongoing struggles along with ideas on how to address those deficits. 

With all this information at hand, the bishop carefully and prayerfully reviews all comments.  During the consultation with the D.S., the Bishop will present praise, address struggles and create (with the D.S.) goals for the next year.  These goals will hold the D.S. accountable for improvement and make the Bishop part of the solution.  A final report of the evaluation will be created by the Bishop for the D.S.’s permanent file.  The D.S. has the right to read it and sign it as well as write a rebuttal if portions of the evaluation are not concurrent with the D.S.’s understandings. The Bishop and D.S. may work together to rewrite the final evaluation if this pleases both supervisor and supervisee. 

Putting this sort of evaluation in place and publicizing the process (not the outcomes) would bolster pastor morale.  Honest oversight that values the experiences of clergy, lay and staff people communicates a sense of value to those perceived to be on the “lower rungs” of leadership. Above all, it is one generous step in restoring trust within all the ranks of leadership. 

We have picked on the D.S. a little today, but that comes with the territory.  360 evaluations can apply to anyone.  For example, what would it look like for a pastor of a small church or a mega church or a Bishop?  As always, I’m interested in what other pondering prophets have to say….if you were a Bishop, what would your D.S. evaluation paperwork look like????

Interested in more?  Just use your favorite search engine to find 360 evaluations of all types.  Hope I got you think’n.

–From one pondering prophet to another–