Friday, April 18, 2008

Accountability and appointments

For the last few years I have been hearing more and more buzz around the idea of doing away with the UM practice of gauranteed appointments for ordained elders, especially to make it easier to deal with ineffective clergy.

I wonder what the measurement of effectiveness would be? Part of me wants to reject a relativistic answer and have some kind of clear definition of what constitutes clergy effectiveness. It could be church growth, professions of faith, great programs, paying apportionments - whatever - just something so that everybody understands the rules of the "effectiveness" game. However, the side of me that is trying to pastor in the real world is starting to convince me that the answer has to be, "It depends - it depends on the community, on the laity, on the history of the congregation, on demographics, etc." How do you take into account all the necessary variables to judge effectiveness of a pastor within a specific appointment?


Jeff the Baptist said...

Pastoral effectiveness is probably like pornography. Hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

John said...

Numbers are absolutely the wrong way to document pastoral effectiveness. Pastor A may grow a struggling church due to inspirational leadership -- but Pastor B may drive people away from a complacent church due to his prophetic, but necessary, honesty. How do you measure that?

Joseph said...

I don't belive that paying Apportionments would be a good measure either. I have been to a few churches in which a pastor makes sure to pay the 100% on hte apportionment but tears apart the church at the same time due to incompetence.

It is a good question but one that is hard to answer.


Andy B. said...

Great question, very complex answers. There is a lot of buzz about the idea of a guaranteed appointment - but I believe that to be a misnomer. The inteneracy is a covenant relationship, not a guaranteed appointment: i.e. I as a pastor promise to go where you send me and serve as best I can and you as a bishop promise to send me somewhere you believe I will flourish.

John said...

The inteneracy is a covenant relationship, not a guaranteed appointment: i.e. I as a pastor promise to go where you send me and serve as best I can and you as a bishop promise to send me somewhere you believe I will flourish.

Sheesh. Typical Andy. Always coming up with the brilliant answers.

I'm opposed to the removal of guaranteed appointment. But I can approve of a reformulation along the lines that Andy proposes.

John Wilks said...

OK, John, but what do we do with those pastors who haven't broken any rules, but simply fail to flourish anywhere?

I like Andy's formulation with an understanding that once a pastor has repeatedly failed to find their niche, they will be gracefully exited out of the system for the sake of our congregations as well as the sake of the clergy person.

Greg Hazelrig said...

Just a thought. Say we do away with guaranteed appointments and you get a pastor who is full of the Spirit and goes and tries to changes a few churches that don't respond, or respond negatively. The guy doesn't get appointed because he couldn't last at churches that didn't want to change.

Then there's the other side of the coin and the pastor who will do anything and say anything to make people happy and has long appointments, but not much change has occurred. This pastor gets reappointed.

I believe there has to be some re-evaluation, but stopping guranteed appointments will, im afraid, have many of our better quality pastors leaving.

Mike L. said...

The appt. system is why I can't be ordained in the Methodist church.

I just have huge problems with it, and your sentiments in this post explain why.

I had this very discussion with the DBOM when I was pursuing ordination, and they couldn't give me a satisfactory answer.

I think the fact that the answer to your question having tension IS the answer the UMC needs to institute change in this regard.

When they do, I might consider coming back. I love the early history of the UMC, but there's just too many hangups for me.

Thanks as always for the great questions John.

Rev. J said...

The effectiveness of a pastor cannot be determined through year end reports or some other type of impersonal reporting. If it goes through, effectiveness will probably have to be determined by the DS which comes out of the relatsionship between the DS and the pastor and the DS and the church. If the DS knows the church's history and understands their congregational make-up then s/he will understand effectiveness of a minister in that setting.
If this passes through general conference, I don't see hoards of minsters all of a sudden leaving the church but it does provide some more accountability.