I have a reader who has been been appointed to a new role, “Ministries of Trustees” position who recently asked for advice on preparing to meet with their pastor.
“I am meeting with our pastor. He’s been reviewed by the Ministries and by the session, but I thought it would be courteous and smart to ask him to share his hopes and dreams about where he wants to take our church family in the next 3, 5, 10 years. He’s been with us for 18 years so he has a solid grasp on what the church members will “bear” but I want to hear him out before we decide on salaries for him and program staff.”
This was my response:
In regards to meeting with your pastor. It sound like you are asking your pastor to come up with a church mission, vision and strategy for the next several years.
This is a great first step in developing a strategic plan for your church. Strategic planning is a great way to formalize the process of implementing the mission and vision of the church.
As far as salary, that should be determined by the board based on how well the board agrees that the current pastor is performing.
And to answer that question, I would ask what (if any) measures are you using to assess his performance and church management?
You should be able to answer the question – are there any goals written for the pastor?
Church goal examples might be, increase membership by X%, develop discipleship programs, create community outreach (homeless, single moms, seniors) programs, etc.
What many organizations fail to do is write goals which means they are simply maintaining the organization.
This makes it difficult to assess an employee’s performance because (in the example of a church) just holding weekly church services is merely maintenance.
Growth and development comes when new ideas, initiatives and strategies are developed and implemented.
In my book, Smart Church Management: A Quality Guide to Church Administration, I explain ways that can help your pastor articulate his vision and create a specific plan for implementing it.
You mentioned pastor salaries so I want to share with you a way to benchmark salaries. There is a great book by Richard Hammar, Compensation Handbook for Church Staff that provides salaries based on size of church, annual revenue, etc. It is a great resource that covers all of staff compensation.
As far as the meeting with the pastor. You should prepare to have a casual conversation with him. Keep in mind this process may intimidate him a little bit.
From his perspective he is the one keeping the church going and many in his position struggle with a governing body giving them direction and making salary decisions for them.
Having said that, your responsibility is to ensure that church financial resources (member tithes) are used in the best way possible to further the mission of the church. This is when leadership is held accountable and pastoral leadership is assessed.
You may want to give him a heads up about what you want to talk about. This will allow him time to prepare. Send him an email or give him a call (whichever communication mode you think he would prefer) and let him know that you want to touch base and hear what he is hoping for the future of the church.
It is very, very, very important that you help him with perspective. Try to highlight the successes and milestones from the last 18 years (hopefully there have been numerous). Many pastors with that kind of tenure are burned out and lose perspective. This is when someone, like yourself, can encourage him. You should send the message that you are there to help him fulfill his call.
So let him know you would like him to share with you three points:
- Where have we been? (this will help him reminisce on the early days and recognize successes along the way).
- Where are we today? (give status on the current state of church)
- Where we hope to be in the next 3, 5, or 10 years.
Have a discussion with him on these three points as a first step in formalizing his vision into a strategic plan. Next get a team of the right people in the room and go through the formal strategic planning process.
This is a great time of year to start church planning and developing strategy and writing goals. Use this example as a point of discussion and try to figure out where God is leading your church next!