Evaluate Your Pastorlings and Usurp Their Authority!

iStock-Unfinished-Business-8Do you find the Table of Duties and AC V inadequate when it comes to defining the responsibilities of a pastor? Wouldn’t it be great to have something a little more practical? Shouldn’t pastors be more concerned about meeting your subjective expectations rather than biblical faithfulness?

Why bother with all that 4th Commandment stuff (Exodus 20:12) and let the spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15) manage the household of faith when the children (1 John 2:1) have their own ideas about how to run the church? Wouldn’t it be great if we ditched this archaic notion of “calling”, entered into the 21st century, and started evaluating how well our pastorlings are doing the jobs we have employed them to do?

Now you can, and the LCMS Mid-South District is here to help! Click here for their Compensation & Evaluation page, where you can find four job performance evaluation worksheets that encourage you to determine his strengths, weaknesses, and set goals for him according your own, self-chosen standards with no biblical guidance whatsoever! [1]

But that’s not all: these forms also let you rate your pastor on a scale from 1–10 (on such essential duties as how well he “assimilates new members”), suggest changes to your pastor’s job description, and comment on how well he “reads the signs of the times, develops vision, [and] sets direction.” Just in case that doesn’t cover it, there’s plenty of room for you to say whatever you want, really (see the “additional comments” section). And don’t forget, since growing the church is the most important thing a pastor can do, be sure to make a direct correlation between the size of his salary and your congregation (see the compensation guidelines).  Remember, it’s like the Church Growth Translation says:

Evaluate your pastorlings and usurp their authority!
(Hebrews 13:17, CGT)



[1] It’s great when elders or members want to provide helpful feedback to their pastor; sometimes it’s even necessary to call him to account for unfaithfulness (e.g., not doing visitation, laziness, etc.). However, that’s different from sitting down and giving him a formal “job performance review.” Given it’s secular origins and purpose, such a practice cannot help but perpetuate a hireling or employee view of the pastoral office (making the practice contrary to Scripture and our Confessions), along with the (false) notion that the elders are the pastor’s “boss.” Any good father will be sensitive to the needs of his wife & children; the same goes for a pastor and his congregation. But for the children to give a formal review to their father does violence to the order of creation (again, cf. 1 John 2:1; 1 Corinthians 4:15). Pastors should catechize their congregations in the 4th Commandment, 5th Article of the Augsburg Confession, the Table of Duties, ordination liturgy, etc., so congregations will know what pastors owe their hearers and what hearers owe their pastors. Then they will be able to give him appropriate feedback, and even call him to repentance when necessary.


Evaluate Your Pastorlings and Usurp Their Authority! — 21 Comments

  1. I think this speaks to the current state of our broken ecclesiology.

    Our congregationalist polity has a weakness toward hireling pastors (and congregations that imagine themselves as business owners who hire their pastors) which becomes all the more exacerbated when fueled by the Enthusiast errors of American Protestantism. Of course, other polities have other weaknesses, but ours is particularly vulnerable to the errors currently so rampant in our Synod.

    Catechesis on all subjects, not least regarding the vocational duties of pastors and laity, is our necessary and ongoing work. Our people and our pastors need to teach and live the true doctrine of our Confessions, if we hope to ever pull out of this mess.

  2. The Missouri Synod was established with a congregational polity, and discussed in numerous writings by C.F.W. Walther. False objections to that polity were raised by Wilhelm Loehe, who referred to the polity as “amerikanische Poebelherrschaft” (American mob-rule) before he severed his ties with the Missouri Synod, but then later admitted Walther and the Missouri Synod had been in agreement with the Lutheran Confessions all along.

    The pejorative “congregationalist polity” or a “congregationalistic polity,” may be used to describe the polities of some other church bodies.

    Since Walther’s time, the Missouri Synod polity of today has been contaminated with bureaucratic, episcopal, and congregationalistic notions.

  3. @Carl Vehse #4


    I’m not suggesting that the way the LCMS was built couldn’t work, and it obviously did work for quite a while. My point was simply that it is currently broken, because the weakness of congregational polity is exacerbated by theological Enthusiasm… something Missouri now has running rampant. Each individual/congregation/district or other subset, listening to voices within, casting visions for where they want to go and what they want to do, is a recipe for disaster.

    I am not here advocating for an episcopal polity, though our confessions do declare our intention to retain it.

  4. No surprise here. The Mid-South District is after all the birthplace of Transforming Congregations Network, which has promoted benchmarks of minimum of 5% growth in worship attendance each year and recommended that underachieving staff receive no raise or be let go, holding pastors accountable for results, and asking ineffective pastors to move on. TCN is still alive in the Mid-South District.

    District President Roger Paavola has initiated his own programs for Revitalization in the Mid-South. Click on “Compass” under the Resource tab on the Mid-South website to discover his ideas for “what a healthy congregation looks like,” ideas for revitalization and the various processes available for “struggling” congregations…A.C.T.S, S.W.O.T, C.A.R., and M.A.P.S.

    These processes promote surveys, strategic planning with measurable indicators, tools for dealing with inhibitors to the strategic movement of the process, and, of course, provide for accountability.

  5. Thank you, Pastor Anderson, for teaching and raising awareness about the dangers of this type of job performance review being used in the pastoral office.

    “Pastors should catechize their congregations in the 4th Commandment, 5th Article of the Augsburg Confession, the Table of Duties, ordination liturgy, etc., so congregations will know what pastors owe their hearers and what hearers owe their pastors. Then they will be able to give him appropriate feedback, and even call him to repentance when necessary.”

    Good advice.

  6. @Amy #8

    “Pastors should catechize their congregations in the 4th Commandment, 5th Article of the Augsburg Confession, the Table of Duties, ordination liturgy, etc., so congregations will know what pastors owe their hearers and what hearers owe their pastors.

    Excellent! But of the people who will show up in voters to decide on a new Pastor (or the competence of the old one?) perhaps 30% will have been in Bible class regularly to hear all that catechesis. The other 70% will exhibit varying degrees of Scriptural/Lutheran ignorance, (which won’t keep them from voting and perhaps even having the “clout” to dominate the assembly).

    Regular attendance at Bible class should be a requirement for having a vote on doctrinal matters/the Pastor. “Wearing trousers” is not enough.

  7. @helen #9
    Hi, Helen.

    The excellent quote from above is actually Pastor Anderson’s from the article. That being said, I have often thought that regular attendance in Bible class would be a good requirement for voting privileges. It would also help if this type of teaching came directly from Synod leadership as Synod has the means to reach more people. Synod should be advising districts and congregations to avoid this type of pastoral evaluation. However, I won’t hold my breath. Without Synod intervention of some sort, I fear these types of evaluations will only become more commonplace within our Synod. 🙁

    In Christ,

  8. Dear BJS,
    I read over the evaluations in the district, a bunch of stuff. Perhaps some can be used to open dialog, or keep dialog going between pastor and congregation.

    Now unless I am wrong, I do not see evaluations as part of compensation.

    Also, the comment on what the congregation can do. In my case, I am called…that is it, the congregations duty is over. The only official act later is removal for cause. I as pastor act as the leader of Word and Sacrament ministry. Oh yes, I work together, but in the end, “my call” on doctrine, practice, etc.

  9. @helen #9
    Dear Helen,
    What you ask might make life easier, but it also can “stack the deck”.

    Where is Carl Vehse to comment??? Give us some Walther comments, I would look up but buried.

    Like it or not, “most” congregations by constitution vote 18 or older, full membership (most likely via transfer or catechism or some order).

  10. Great article. Hopefully the dp’s inform all the wanna be deacons when they go for their deacon training at the district head quarters that they will be evaluated on performance similar to job performance reviews in the secular world.

  11. @Pastor Prentice #12

    What you ask might make life easier, but it also can “stack the deck”.

    Would you care to explain how the deck might be “stacked”?
    Adult Bible class, (taught, I hope, by the Pastor) is open to all. A few might have a conflict… Sunday school teachers being one group. However, I have had Pastors who taught a weekday class for Sunday School teachers, to keep them on the Lutheran page in their Sunday teaching, and I thought it a very good idea.

  12. @helen #15
    Dear Helen,
    I guess, like it or not (and at least in my Church Constitution), all members (sinful wretches we all are) are eligible to vote. Yes, whether they attend every Sunday, a few Sunday’s, all classes, or never come at all; they can all vote.
    After all, all those people did the calling, they all have a say.

    Perhaps that is why a Church has its rolls, or should have up to date, so people do not come out of the woodwork and vote, and that has happened, I know.

  13. Does anyone know who this quote is attributed to: “The church dies from apostasy.”
    I thought it relevant to the discussion, so I thought I’d ask.

  14. @wineonthevines #17

    I believe this is what you have in mind: “The church is not dying from martyrdom, but from apostasy.” Hermann Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors, #35, September 1954.

  15. Evaluations as addressed in the OP lay a different foundation than what the public rite of ordination expresses from Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. How much more of a theology of glory can one get? Unfortunately, the evaluation standards like these have been a semi-official barometer for the sustenance of mission work/plants at home and abroad. Very sad, indeed.

  16. @David Rosenkoetter #18

    As a Mid-South guy who has had enough and is moving out of the district, believe me, the Mid-South is a failed experiment in The Church Growth Movement (CGM), yet continues to thrive in this part of the country. The DP is a chameleon Lutheran. He has no problem with giving the “yes” nod to whomever he is addressing within the district.

    Remember, SP Harrison has the authority to hold DPs accountable, but refuses to do so. Our synod is a big self-licking ice cream cone.

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