19 August 2010

How does a pastor, or church, measure success or effectiveness?

. . . the causes of clergy burnout and poor mental and physical health are far deeper than poor boundaries, or the failure to engage in self-care, or the seemingly insatiable desires of congregations." says Anne Dilenschneider, award-winning poet, essayist, spiritual director, and leadership consultant in The Huffington Post. "Burnout and poor health are symptoms of a far deeper "dis-ease" of soul that has plagued clergy for nearly 100 years. They are symptoms of starvation. Addressing the symptoms of burnout does not get to the root of this serious matter."

Dilenschneider says, "Pastors who are effective and get things done are considered "successful." Denominations focus on results that can be measured (e.g., increased membership and the congregation's financial well-being). Yet numerous studies over the past 20 years reveal that this approach is, literally, killing clergy and, by extension, churches and denominations."

"The current emphasis on clergy effectiveness is due to a change in the role of pastors that occurred in the 1920s along with the development of the assembly line and the adoption of the production efficiency methodology of Taylorism in corporate America. At that time, as Richard Niebuhr observed, clergy became "pastoral directors" who focused on the administrative tasks of managing and maintaining churches for the benefit of the denomination. And, as retired United Methodist bishop Richard Wilke has noted, by the 1960s, pastors were being evaluated on their "competency, acquired skills, and professional status."

"Until the 1920s, the pastor was a cura animarum, the "cure of souls," or "curate" -- a person who cared for souls by helping people locate themselves in God's greater story. The first step in this work was the pastor's own attention to her or his soul-care through an intentional focus on her or his personal relationship with the Holy. Yet, as I learned as a participant in a Lilly Endowment convocation, seminaries focus on academics and do not train Protestant clergy in spirituality or spiritual formation. At most, even in 2010, only a handful of seminaries require a semester of study in this essential subject"

These are excerpts only. Read the entire article on The Huffington Post Religion site.

How does a pastor, or church, measure success or effectiveness?
At what cost?

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