Guaranteed appointments for Elders in the UM Church has just ended.  Click HERE to read more.  And I have noticed an increase in Facebook chatter responding in a negative way, which I don't understand.  Let me explain...

I worked in the corporate world (or as some church people call it, "The Real World") from 1993-2002.  I worked for several companies including

State Farm Insurance

State Farm Insurance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Automatic Data Processing and State Farm.  These were both very "good" and high paying jobs. They also had one thing in common...I was expected to produce and be effective.  I was a Fire Claim Representative for State Farm.  I was trained for months before going into the field.  I was sent to Bloomington for 3 weeks one January to learn the policy.  [Believe it or not, if someone failed the policy exam, they were escorted back to the hotel, watched while they packed, put on a plane and sent home (without a job).] When someone's house burned or was damaged and they filed a claim with insurance, I went out and assessed the damage, took measurements, wrote an estimate and then issued a draft.  I usually worked about 30 claims per month.  Each of those approximate 30 claims had the possibility of being re-inspected by someone. (The Farm actually has a "re-inspector" position and all they do is go out and make sure you did the claim according to standards.)  The re-inspector retook all the measurements and gave us a 1/2" allowance to be off.

Each quarter, every Claims Adjuster had a performance review in which our re-inspections were reviewed with management.  These quarterly performance reviews determined if and how much of a raise we received.  If the adjuster had consistently bad reviews, it would result in termination.  In other words, my job security was performance based and not guaranteed!

I was dumbfounded when I entered into the ministry and discovered that not only did pastor's NOT have performance reviews to see what kind of job they were doing but also had GUARANTEED APPOINTMENTS.  We have one of the most important duties and we are not held accountable???  I really could not believe it.  Yet, in the pulpits, most ministers will preach on accountability yet we don't seem to want anyone to hold us accountable.

I have and have always had (gonna make some of my teacher friends mad) a problem with tenure.  The biggest problem with tenure is mediocrity.  You have a job regardless if you do it well or not.  (I know some are going to say that it prevents teachers/preachers from being fired over what they say or teach, but let's be real!  We have way more problem with ineffective teachers and preachers!!)  Can the system of Performance Based Employment be tainted? YES.

To be effective and fair, the United Methodist Church is going to have to institute the following:

  • Clearly defined performance goals so the Bishop, DS, BOOM and Clergy are on the same page.  These goals need to be individualized for each clergy because every church is different.
  • Regular performance reviews.  These means the Bishop/DS/BOOM or other is going to have to be in the business of every local church and pastor on a higher level and more routine level
  • Develop policies for helping pastors who are not performing to expectations and a process leading to termination if expectations are not met.
  • A check and balance system so that one person cannot just arbitrarily fire a pastor.

I know this can be strange and somewhat scary. I like knowing that I'm going to have an appointment no matter what! But tenure/guaranteed appointments are not the answer.  This leads to ineffectiveness, mediocrity, laziness and the stats of the UM church don't show we as pastors are doing our jobs in reaching great masses of people for the Kingdom.  Right now as it has been, a pastor can go play golf 5 times a week, preach on Sunday and be guaranteed a pulpit.  That's the larger injustice.