The Challenge of Assessment Part 1: Clergy Assessment The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere District Executive, Ohio-Meadville District
Overview • 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
Introduction • The focus tonight is on Clergy assessment. • We will offer Congregational assessment later in December • 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 them) • 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 processes • It is not okto judge people in the same manner • Guard against blaming people • Systems get the results they are designed to produce • Relationships determine behavior • My behavior influences you & yours Influences me • If you get unsatisfactory results, change the system
WhenNot To Do Assessment • In the midst of conflict • Close to budget time (budget time raises anxiety already) • Outside of an expected schedule (no sudden assessments) • Following a crisis or major change in the congregation’s life • Following a crisis or major change in the minister’s 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 NotTo 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 fashion. • 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.
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 something? (new plans, future goals)
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 commitments? • 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 Clergy Ministry is an art, not a technology nor a product. • “Life is just a chance to grow a soul.” A. Powell Davies. • Our “business:” To grow human beings into the best they can be • Ministry is a shared responsibility of the clergy and the congregation. Can’t do it alone. • Ministry is a reciprocal relationship with others.
Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of Clergy External standards to consider: • The Principles of Unitarian Universalism. • Covenants of Right Relationship. • Unitarian Universalists Ministers Association Professional Code of Conduct.
COVENANT 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 ideals; • To labor earnestly together for the well being of our communities and the progress of Unitarian Universalism. Through fidelity to this covenant and our Code of Professional Conduct, we aspire to grow in wholeness, and bring hope and healing to the world.
Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of Clergy • Ministry is captive to its times and at odds with its times. • Ministers are recipients of legitimate and delusional dependency and counter-dependency dynamics. • Ministers serve the faith - while being paid by the congregation.
Considerations/Difficulties in Assessment of Clergy • 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 Clergy Ministry a mixture of contradictory ambitions: • The consoling pastor vs. the challenging teacher. • Apologist for faith vs. the challenger of status quo. • 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 member’s lives. • Manifests respect for all members. • Is able to show breadth and depth of caring for people. • 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 one’s own sabbath. • Honors the family, balancing work and home life. • Keeps healthy, physically, emotionally, mentally, morally. • Sets appropriate boundaries with member relations. • 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 sessions. • Knows how to touch base with members. • Timely and responsive to members in times of need: Visitation to the sick and shut-in. Present during crisis. Simply available. • Manages well the intimacy and dependency dynamic. • 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 engagement. • 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 congregation. • Provides the Board and Committee chairs appropriate consultation regarding: Church management, risk assessment, office operations, stewardship and financial management. • Connects to the larger Unitarian Universalist ministry. • Fulfills duties the Board delegates to the minister. • 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 month) • see: http://www.uuma.org/?page=assessmenttools
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 congregation’s 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 knowledge, • regularly assessing internal & external environments, • responding to change within or without with resiliency. • 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 congregation’s “culture” & habit
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 month’s 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 individuals.
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 questions. • Create the culture of routinely assessing some aspect of the ministry. • Do one every quarter, leading to a rotating cycle.
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 questions • 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 minister’s self assessment in the process • can include as many as 20-30 respondents
Reflecting On Ministry • comprehensive and holistic, focus on shared ministry • societal change affects our expectations of ministry. • presents a series of 12 characteristics to help measure effective ministry in a time of changing expectations. • tools for self assessment & small group reflection • 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 plans
Reflecting On Ministry • twelve characteristics of effective 21st century ministry • 1. Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Balance • 2. Guide a Transformational Faith Experience • 3. Motivate and Develop Congregation’s Mission • 4. Develop and Communicate a Vision • 5. Interpret and Lead Change • 6. Promote and Lead Spiritual Formation for Members • 7. Provide Leadership for High-Quality, Relevant Worship • 8. Identify, Develop, and Support Lay Leaders • 9. Build, Inspire, and Lead a Staff/Volunteer Team • 10. Manage Conflict • 11. Navigate Successfully the World of Technology • 12. Desire to be a Lifelong Learner
Resources • UUMA.org: Resources: Resource Library: Assessment Tools http://www.uuma.org/?page=assessmenttools • Jill M. Hudson, “When Better Isn’t Enough: Evaluation Tools for the 21st Century Church;” Alban Institute • UUMA Guidelines: http://www.uuma.org/?page=guidelines • Gil Rendle, “Making Pastoral Evaluation Worthwhile;” Alban Institute, http://www.alban.org/conversation.aspx?id=2220 • McKinsey & Company’s “Capacity Assessment Grid,” http://www.venturephilanthropypartners.org/learning/reports/capacity/assessment.pdf (great for congregational and clergy assessment.)