What are best practices for doing the monthly Pastors' reports to the Elders?

Within our co-pastorate, we are looking at different ways of reporting on our monthly tasks.  Right now, we turn in a monthly report that gives date and brief description of our tasks categorized around - Worship, Pastoral Care, Discipleship/Education, Community Connections/Evangelism, Council, Committee, Classical, and Other.  Each pastor turns in this 1 page report to the elders.  It is particularly task oriented and seems to take on a business focus. 

Are there other ways of reporting that you have found helpful to maintain accountability?  We found another denomination that uses 3 additional questions: 1) What was the most spiritually enriching task this past month and why  2)What was the most difficult task this month that you would like the elders' input  3) Briefly assess one of the following: your spiritual relationship, your relationship with the congregation, or your relationship with your family.

  

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Accountability ends up being a pretty negative way of looking at any ministry, including pastors.   If the report dealt more primarily with looking at the impact of the work with regard to the goals of the church, perhaps it wouldn't seem so business oriented.   Perhaps yes there could be a brief record of the number of visits, hours counseling, times spent on sermons, but maybe the majority of the report could be on activities and progress related to major church goals in which the preacher plays a pivotal role.  For example, if one goal is that children learn the heidelberg catechism, then how is that going?  Are they excited?  Are they confused?   Do they get support from parents?  Is theire relationship with the Lord growing?  etc.

 

Or if a major church goal is prison ministry, then is that coasing along?  Are there spiritual rewards?   Are there needs for more help?  Does it take too much time?  Is God providing encouragements?  etc. 

 

If a major goal is ministring to the elderly, then how is that going?   Where is there room for improvement?   Could they experience more contact with the church?   Do they need different facilities?   a companion program?   Someone to write to?  Someone to mentor?  Can they find those who want mentors?   Can they find penpals, etc.  

 

It's not an evaluation about whether  a pastor is making eight home visits per week, and putting in 3.2678 hours of educational updating, or visiting 5 people in the hospital 2.3 times.   But its an evaluation about whether the pastor has purpose, direction, passion, success, and hope.  About whether the blessing of the spirit shines thru.  And whether the word of God flows and accomplishes its purpose.  Its an evaluation of whethere the pastor is spending too much time on "business", and not enough time fulfilling the calling of pastor, or preacher, or evangelist. 

I am retired now, but when in full time ministry I found out that the most valuable reporting was accomplished when I reported on my prayer life (what have you been praying for?) and on my devotional life (in what way has God been leading you through his Word?)  These questions helped me focus on my calling.

Thank You Frank.

What a refreshing thought to be updated on how our Pastor is growing. How the Lord is leading his/her prayer life. As a parishioner I expect to see my pastor in the word of God, Praying for a leading of the Holy Spirit and being directed by the Spirit of the Lord on what to bring the Congregation. I believe my pastor should have time set aside as part as his regular business day for Devotions, Prayer, and Reading in order to be prepared to unfold a Spirit filled message or teaching to the congregation.

To have a pastor in a position that they are failing in my opinion is a direct result of not being prepared and possibly more important not have the continued prayer support from the parishioners and more important the men of the church. I will not even start to share on how the men of the church are failing in their God given responsibilities.

Not being prepared I believe is because we do not ensure that the Pastor knows that we expect them to use some of their office time for Devotions, Prayer and meaningful reading. To capture pure statistics that do not capture these acts are clearly not taking a snap shot of the entire picture.

In closing the real question boils down do we expect to pay the Pastor to do Devotions, Prayer and Read. I believe the answer is a resounding Yes.

 

Community Builder

I like your suggestion on reporting on my prayer life and spiritual development. So far I've been reporting my time on sermons, books read, and visitations and meetings. I reported my prayer time and spiritual development at my last council meeting and they appreciated that. one of the reasons why I like the Network and it's forums.

Community Builder

I would hope that those monthly pastor's reports to elders are accompanied by similar monthly elders' reports to pastors. In other words, mutual accountability should be a significant element of any meetings of elders.

I've served as an elder for several terms and in several different churches. Mutual censure or accountability needs to be the halmark of every gathering of pastoral elders. We tend to hold both elders and pastors accountable for pastoral care. When elders regularly neglect their pastoral visiting, they're admonished. That also applies to pastors. And when one of a pastor's tasks is to provide pastoral care and to visit, then he or she is held accountable for the number and quantity of visits made.

How is a pastor growing spiritually? That question is perfectly valid, especially as elders reflect on how they are growing spirituallty.

In other words, I don't think that pastors should be held to a higher standard than elders ... aside from the fact that pastors should be able to accomplish a lot more pastoral visits since that is their full time vocation, while most elders tend to hold down full time jobs away from the church.

Oversight of the church's various programs, committees and ministries should be the shared responsibility of all the elders. There is generally no need for a minister to sit on a wide range of committees or boards, aside from Worship. Even there, I know of pastors who act as 'consultant' to Worship Committee, popping in now and then to those meetings.

Keith, perhaps we think of it incorrectly to think of a pastor's report to elders vs an elder's report to pastors.   Each must report to all the rest, whether there is a pastor present or not.   But the report and evaluation is primarily for the purpose of making sure the outcomes and goals are being met with regard to the purpose and vision and objectives of the church as a whole.   It should not been seen as primarily a way to assess or grade an individual's performance. 

Other than that, I agree with all your comments. 

Participant

I am reminded of Acts 6:4, which is applicable for the church's spiritual leaders (elders, which includes the pastor).  Those are the 2 most important callings of our leaders.   and if other "duties" are taking time away from these 2 primary callings, then some evaluating and assessment probably needs to take place.   So I echo the focus on accountability of the devotional and prayer life for the spiritual leaders.  One survey (not recent, I found the results in the praying church sourcebook, but i have heard of these "confessions" from spiritual leaders in the last year or so as well)  showed that of 2000 presbyterian and reformed pastors, 95% spent less than 5 minutes a day in prayer =(.  makes me wonder (the charismatics were a little better with an average of 18 minutes per day).  Another statistic Dan Henderson (pastor, author, speaker, etal) mentioned was that of the time a pastor spent in ministry of the Word and prayer, 95% of that time was focused on ministry of the Word, and only about 5% on prayer.

How do we change those five minutes a day?   As you get older, you may have an advantage in prayer time, when we don't sleep so soundly anymore.   I've found on nights when it is difficult to sleep, or if I wake up too early, then it is an excellent time to pray undisturbed.   I end up praying for people and things that I have not thought of for some time.   And usually then fall asleep eventually, more peacefully.   So I consider God gracious in granting me less sleep, to bring me closer to Him.   

Participant

I'm glad you get to see it that way, John!

How do we change those 5 minutes/day?

by praying  =)... we pray for prayer... that a Spirit of prayer will be poured out in our congregations, in our denominations... we pray that God will help us become men & women of prayer.   We pray that our churches will become houses of prayer (Is. 56:7; Matt 21:13), that we will be a church devoted to prayer (Col 4:2; Acts 1:14, 2:42, 6:4 =) there it is again!  We pray that the Holy Spirit will convict us of prayerlessness where necessary, and help us to make the commitment to implement the change needed for us to become prayer warriors. 

 Some will tell me, but you have the gift of prayer.  Prayer is not a gift, it's a command!  I pursued prayer - read books on prayer and researched people who prayed like Praying Hyde, Count Zinzendorf & the Moravians, Rees Howells, Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, etc. , went to conferences on prayer, joined prayer groups, went to prayer gatherings - even if they were of the charismatic or pentecostal stream, and the Holy Spirit graciously and generously taught me a lot through many different ways/people, and through it God has mostly "converted" me from a Miss Martha to a Miss Mary.

The LORD often wakes me up in the early AM as well, and that is a significant part of my personal time with Him.  I love this time because it is undisturbed (we have 3 kids ages 11 and under).   I have wrestled through many things with Him in those early morning hours.   He has used that time to give insight, significantly change the direction I'm going which gave me more time to spend in prayer, as well as enjoy sweet time with Him in the secret place (Ps. 91:1 NKJV). 

Our church participates in 24/7 prayer in the county, where 30+ churches each take one day of the month and commit to covering those 24 hours in prayer through having the people in their congregation sign up for a time on that day.  We have .5 hour time slots, but many of the churches do a full hour for each person.  One of the churches in our area has 200+ people praying an hour each week.  All the churches can focus on the same requests specifically for our county, if they so choose.

 

That's beautiful, Bev!   I would add that the Miss Martha's can also pray, even while they are busy cleaning, cooking, helping.  It would be interesting for us to set some goals:  for every minute spent on a computer game, spend one minute in dedicated prayer....   for every minute spent watching the news, spend one minute in prayer....  

Have you ever been afraid to pray?   Sometimes I find that the answer to prayer is scary!   God actually listens, and answers!   And it makes me wonder:  what am I praying for, is it really what God wants....  

Participant

Thanks John... now I pray when i have to do what i call my "Miss Martha" work.  I've had times when i don't want to leave the "secret place", but i have to get the work done, and I'm thinking it's going to take me 10-15 hours to do this project and then it only takes me 3-5!  I've thought another project would take me 3-5 hours and it only takes 1-2, and another time when I thought it would take 1-2 hours and it only took 20-30 minutes.   I've experienced the LORD helping me get some of my "Miss Martha" work done!   Those are all testimonies in themselves.   I love "driving" berry harvester on "auto steer" at 1 mile an hour in the warm summer sunshine with the smell of raspberries, eating them to my heart's content... that's probably my favorite God time!  and getting some work done too!

John, I was more afraid not to pray.  I was thinking about it after I posted yesterday, about why I pursued prayer, what prompted my pursuit in the first place.  And I was reminded that the Holy Spirit used 2 nightmares and a testimony of prayer over about a year's time (2005-2006) to compel me.  After the first nightmare i remember thinking there was no human way out of that situation, it was impossible to escape, and a while later upon reflection, I realized the only way out was Jesus Christ.  In the nightmare I was in a dungeon of hell like Peter describes in 2 Peter 2.  As soon as I read that passage some time after my nightmare, I knew that's where I was in my nightmare.  

The testimony of prayer was the second significant "event", it was about a casino in California that became a Kingdom church because the community prayed.  The reason that came up was because a casino was coming to our area, and someone shared that testimony with several of us.  We're still praying it into a house of prayer for all nations =) 

the 3rd event, was another nightmare, and this one was a "hell on earth" situation, I remember waking up, and I asked God, what do we need to do so that this never happens.  and i "got" one word... PRAY!   That very day I went to the first Moms in touch prayer group at our kids' school, and have been pursuing prayer ever since.   That was the same day as the shooting at the Amish school in Pennsylvania, which I don't remember hearing about until later, but was in some ways similar to my nightmare, so those 3 all were within hours of each other. 

Not saying I understand how dreams and visions work... but those were significant "events" that prompted me to pursue prayer.  And those were just the beginning.  There have been many other confirmations as I started pursuing prayer, that further/continue to encourage me as well.

I know God always has our best interest in mind, because He's God.  One phrase that I use is that it's always for His glory and our good.  Our good is secondary to His glory, but because He's God, it's an easy thing for Him to make both happen at the same time.  When I pray with the healing prayer ministry, that is my assurance to people if they don't experience the healing they are expecting... that God is not answering our prayer in that way at this time because He has something better for them.

Participant

 I see that I had added a paragraph while the networks' "spam" protector was down time, and then my first one ended up going through...  so here's the last paragraph =)  sorry, my computer started doing strange things...

John:   

I think it's great you are thinking of ways to increase time with Him. He will totally honor that. One of my hopes for our denomination, is that we will start a similar 24/7 prayer movement/relay like we do in our county, similar to the Moravians (see link for some info on the Moravians)

http://www.thewellumc.com/templates/System/details.asp?id=39121&PID=623515 

 

with 1000 churches in the crc that have a lot of "well-churched" fairly mature members, we should be able to get every day covered at least once. So John, I would love for you to pray into that "movement" with me.

 

Participant

Going back to the top, about pastors' reports to elders, I'll just share what I do for comparison.  I give a one-page bullet-point outlined report.  I fill in the points by going through my "brain book" (journal) putting in dates etc. of my various activities.  I don't organize it all that much yet (how many sermons I preached and classes I taught and visits I made top the list).  I go through it quickly and hand the written copy to my clerk.  My council right now seems happy with that procedure.