By Pastor Darin Anderson (Oakwood Church, FL)
Two tools I have found profoundly helpful for managing my own time and supervising my staff are here:
Every staff member should have a clear and up to date job description. This should articulate their key result areas as an outline for year to year and month to month evaluation of effectiveness. How can anyone know they are being productive if they don’t know what they are being measured against? The ministry dashboard above is related to my job description as a Lead Pastor – it would need to be adjusted to match a different role or job description.
Along with clear marching orders, every staff member needs regular feedback. A formal review every year (using something like the evaluation form above) is a minimal standard. An informal mid-year review plus quarterly feedback and periodic written direction should supply the clarity and encouragement needed for effective ministry.
I have served in five EFCA churches in roles varying from Youth Pastor to Family Pastor, Associate Pastor, Outreach Pastor and Lead Pastor. I have served in a church of 100 and in a church of 2400. I have been a solo pastor with a volunteer team. And I have been a supervisor with up to 14 employees. I have hired and worked with some truly amazing staff members and I have made some really poor decisions related to hiring and management. I have given helpful and timely feedback to encourage and support my staff. And I have neglected or confused some direct reports causing them (and myself and the church) great frustration.
When I first started as a youth pastor, right out of college, I had virtually no structure or intentionality at all in my world. Thankfully I married a very organized military kid who encouraged me, for example, to produce the monthly calendar before the month started. In college I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and some great church books like Purpose Driven Church and The Master Plan of Evangelism. These gave me some basic orientation toward avoiding the tyranny of the urgent and working my (and God’s) priorities.
But it was Pastor Mark Hoffman (now in Knoxville, then in Charlotte) who introduced me to a pattern of Intentional Living originally crafted by Steve Hudson (long time Director of Reach National, then called Mission USA, I believe). The idea is to take a monthly personal retreat for prayer, Bible study and planning. Spend 3-4 hours in prayer, study, journaling and reflection, ideally in a setting that nourishes your soul – for me that is usually outside in a peaceful park overlooking water. Then spend 2-3 hours reviewing your goals from last month and plotting your schedule for the next month in order to prioritize progress according to your Key Result Areas. Conclude by updating your Ministry Dashboard (or whatever written tool you use to document and express your progress and goals). Share that with your supervisor or elders to discuss within a week.
In addition to a monthly retreat, Hudson’s plan strongly encourages a 2-3 day Annual Retreat for additional time with the Lord (and, ideally, your wife) along with a more thorough evaluation of your goals and plans. I’ll be honest that I’ve only done a two day retreat twice in my 20 years of ministry as we have four boys ranging from 19 to 9. But I have repeatedly experienced the blessing of dedicated time with the Lord and the discipline of documenting progress and goals.
The Ministry Dashboard and Review documents above are simplified version I stole from Pastor Scott Lothery, XP of The Orchard in Chicago. I have been profoundly blessed to serve under godly and wise men like Mark and Scott who helped coach me from my natural flexibility into a disciplined intentionality that has greatly increased my own fruitfulness for the Lord and provided much needed clarity for those on my team. I pray these tools will be useful for you and your ministry!