I’m doing my bi-annual MDR (Ministry Development Review). It’s a useful process which identifies my strengths and weakness, highlights areas for training, gives the church the opportunity to feedback and sets priorities for the next two years. The 180° review questionnaire lays out the massive skill set required of the modern pastor under twelve categories (see below). Rob Parsons believes the most difficult job in the world today is that of the church leader. The skill set below reveals why. There are a number of dangers of this review process which we need to be aware of.
First, by doing the MDR I can set myself unrealistically high expectations and so become demotivated, “I’ll never be like this”, or if I think I must be like this I’ll burnout (see avoiding ministry burnout) in trying to be the perfect pastor.
Second, it can feed the cult of personality and maintain high expectations of me in others. Ruth Dickinson, editor of Christianity Magazine, wrote in her February editorial “Often, ministers are expected to be everything – great orator, administrator, counsellor, organiser, encourager, visionary, healer…whereas the truth of the matter is that most are either good at the ‘big picture’ stuff or the details, not both.” The MDR process lists all the desired qualities of a pastor but we must remember that it is a short step from desire to expectation.
Third, we must also learn to distinguish between skill sets which might be acquired by training and those which are inherent weaknesses that no amount of training will overcome. In other words, we need to identify pastoral gifts and strengths and free the pastor to exercise those gifts whilst identifying gifts in others at church which make up the weaknesses, either through other full time ministers or trained volunteers.
Fourth, and last, we must not expect the pastor to grow the church. God grows the church as the gospel of Jesus Christ, who died to free sinners from the grasp of the devil and hell and sets them apart to do good, is preached and the Holy Spirit wakes sleeping sinners from their spiritual stupor. We need true and proper confidence in God and his gospel not misplaced confidence in his earthen vessels as agents of growth.
Here’s the MDR review questionnaire in full.
Each category is assessed under fiver options: weak, developing, maturing, accomplished, outstanding. How would you measure up?
|Aspect of Ministry|
|1. Communication … to communicate effectively and appropriately in both written and verbal form with people of all ages and situations in society, inside and outside the church. He/she is particularly called to active listening and empathetic behaviour.||Verbal||Preaching|
|Agendas and minutes|
|2. Leadership Clergy are called to a role of leadership within the Christian community, enabling that community to develop its vision. All clergy are called to inspire, motivate and empower members of the church, individually and collectively, to achieve that vision.||Mission setting|
|Feedback, review and refinement|
|3. Management & Organisation … to work with the PCC and churchwardens or other colleagues to put in place appropriate structures and resources for the Christian community. This will include clear boundaries and accountabilities of roles. He/she will ensure appropriate processes and policies in relation to services, weddings, baptisms and funerals, health and safety, financial, fabric, staff and volunteer management, etc. He/she will ensure that the structures and processes meet appropriate diocesan and legal requirements.||Structures|
|Boundaries of responsibility|
|Health and safety|
|Buildings and Grounds|
|Volunteer working agreements|
|Diocesan and legal requirements|
|4. Outreach … to develop a ministry that encourages new people to Christian faith and will support existing Christians in evangelism and discipleship. He/she is called to develop relations with community, external organisations and, where appropriate, his/her employing body, to promote positive links with the church.||Pathways for new faith|
|Support existing believers in evangelism|
|Develop relations with community|
|Links with external organisations|
|5. Pastoral Care … to identify pastoral care needs and put in place appropriate structures and skills to provide this to the community (including parish visitors, pastoral assistants, local volunteers). He/she will lead the Christian community in giving support to those in need of pastoral care as appropriate, including baptism and marriage preparation, care to the sick and dying, bereavement, individual support and visiting.||Identify pastoral needs|
|Lead community to give care|
|Sick and Dying|
|Individual support and visiting|
|6. Personal Development … continually to develop personal skills and knowledge in relation to ministry through courses of study, reading, consultancy, training courses and workshops.||Study|
|7. Preaching … to reflect, interpret and preach the gospel in a way that will encourage faith development. He/she will adapt the content and style for different audiences, occasions and purposes (using biblical interpretation, doctrine, pastoral care, ethical teaching and other models).||Reflect, interpret and preach|
|Different style different audiences|
|8. Self- Management … to follow an appropriate pattern of work to meet the demands of ministry, as well as maintaining a spiritual and personal life. This will include time management, personal administration, planning and organisation, working effectively alone or in a team, chairing meetings, and appropriate breaks.||Pattern work|
|Maintain spiritual life|
|Planning and organisation|
|Working in team|
|9. Spirituality … to maintain a prayerful spiritual life with appropriate support networks (including spiritual director or equivalent and regular retreats). He/she will recognise him/herself to be on a life journey involving development of theological understanding and spiritual reflection.||Prayer life|
|Theological journey (growth)|
|10. Teaching … to teach at different ages and levels of faith or knowledge, in support of faith development. This may include admission to Holy Communion, Confirmation, school assemblies, introduction to Christianity (Alpha, Emmaus, etc) nurture courses, and pastoral care courses. This may be in formal teaching environments or in small groups. He/she may plan, organise and conduct a programme of teaching which supports the the vision and needs of the church community.||Teach different ages|
|Introduction to Christianity|
|Pastoral care courses|
|Programme to support church vision|
|11. Working Collaboratively … to work collaboratively with others (including, as appropriate, clergy colleagues, churchwardens, PCC, staff and volunteers), ensuring individuals’ gifts and talents are identified and used effectively in any given situation or task. He/she is called to share ministry, encouraging and building up the community of faith and, where appropriate, working with other faiths .||Collaboration|
|Building-up community of faith|
|12. Worship … to lead worship prayerfully, competently and confidently. To plan, organise and conduct a programme of worship that supports the vision and needs for ministry including appropriate use of resources, music, teaching and preaching.||Lead prayerfully|
|Plan worship programme|
|Organise worship programme|
|Conduct worship programme|
|Support needs for ministry|