4. Learning Pastors, Learning Congregations

I asked a well-known church consultant about evaluations for pastors, superintendents, and bishops. What are the basic elements?  His answer intrigued me.  He said that the most useful evaluations, no matter how many questions or what style of questions they use, come down to three things: ìWhat have you been working on? What have you learned? What are you going to do next?î

This matches my observations of pastors and churches. The greatest difference between pastors and congregations that are stagnant or declining, and those that are thriving with all forms of fruitfulness is their adaptability, their constant cultivation of learning, their vigorous work at figuring things out.

In congregations that are thriving, the pastor and staff are constantly learning. They are reading, searching the internet, traveling across the country for learning events. They are on the phone, checking with colleagues, visiting other churches. They are constantly figuring things out. Whenever there is a challenge or obstacle, they work the problem through with tons of collaboration and contact with inside and outside sources.

And the congregations are learning, also.  Leadership Teams are reading common books, they get together for problem-solving and visioning sessions, they travel to learn from other congregations, they bring in outside consultants, pastors, musicians, and laypersons from other congregations to learn from. Itís fascinating to watch! Worship, mission, evangelism, visitor follow-up, nursery care, youth ministry, choir, praise bands, use of screens, communications, personnel managementÖ..the list of topics and teams that read, study, discuss, figure out, visit, go to workshops, visit other congregations is endless!

I canít overstate the importance of this kind of learning, and how it leads to healthy change. With the challenges of a rapidly changing world, it requires learning to understand what the problems are which we face. And it requires learning to work out solutions. It requires learning on the part of the pastor and staff. And it requires leaning on the part of the congregation. Forming a learning culture in the congregation is vitally important if we hope to fulfill our mission.

So, ìwhat have you been working on? What have you learned? What are you going to do next?î  Think about it.

Yours in Christ,
rs