Posted by: Tom,

One of the major issues in denominations is providing accountability for pastors. In my denomination that is done on two levels. I am accountable to my local church's governing board and I am accountable to my denomination through my cluster leader, the Pastoral Ministries Leadership Team, and our Bishop. But there are problems with all of these relationships.

The governing board has the closest relationship with me and that is both good and bad. I am not sure how effective it is in a small church setting. It is difficult to keep it effective and healthy at the same time. The denominational structures are based more on numbers rather than relationship and that is very misleading. So is it possible to have an accountability structure that is highly relational but also free from some of the conflict of interest that can occur in a small church?

I have a friend who works for a company that employs over 200,000 people worldwide and in some respects the employees operate similar to pastors in that they don't punch a clock and work in a wide variety of contexts. So I talked with him about their system and this is how I think it might work.

Each pastor needs to have a ministry counselor (MC). In our case it would probably be the cluster leader. The MC would keep track of everything the pastor is involved with; my church, denominational teams, mission trips, and other boards, committees, etc. Obviously a system would need to be developed to keep track of this. The MC would also communicate weekly with the pastor to develop their relationship, learn what the pastor is trying to accomplish in the immediate as well as long term future.

Once a year the MC would also contact several of the groups the pastor has been involved with. For example, the MC might contact the chairperson of a board the pastor was involved with and ask how effective the pastor was as a member of the team, what were the pastor's strengths and weaknesses, and what skills the pastor needed to develop. From year to year this feedback would be used to help the pastor improve his skills and lay out a direction for the coming years.

The MC would also insure that the pastor is practising a lifestyle that is healthy for ministry. This would include volunteering in the community, a healthy amount of leisure time, vacations, etc.

Obviously the MC would have a huge commitment to this and there would need to be a strict limit on how many pastors an MC would be responsible for. It might also need to be broken out of the cluster system so that every pastor has an MC and most pastors are an MC for another pastor.

Got to run so I will need to finish this later.


Okay, so I don't like the idea of the cluster leader being the MC for all the pastors in their cluster. An MC should consult with the cluster leader but an MC should have no more than 2 or 3 pastors that they counsel so that would make it impossible for the cluster leader to also be the MC for every pastor in his cluster.

Okay, time to flesh it out a little more.

Assumptions: - Accountability is necessary. - Accountability must be highly relational. - Pastor's are in a unique situation that requires a unique approach to accountability. - Current systems usually focus on data that is often ineffective at measuring a pastor's performance.

How It Would Work

The MC and the Pastor would have an initial interview that would cover strengths and weaknesses, ministry philosophy, educational goals, family, community involvement, physical health, spiritual health, etc. This interview is designed to help the MC understand where the pastor is and where he feels led. These can, and most likely will, change but that can evolve as the relationship with the MC develops. The MC also helps the pastor develop goals for the next week as well as longer term goals.

Each week the MC communicates with the pastor to discuss progress being made, obstacles encountered, etc. The MC may also suggest resources that could help the pastor reach educational and career goals. Those resources could be books, seminars, conferences, experts, veteran leaders, etc.

Once or twice a year the MC will assess the progress of the pastor by compiling information from personal contact, interviews with the pastor's cluster leader, interviews with the local church board chairman, chairman of boards or committees that the pastor serves on, etc. The MC will ask about the pastors effectiveness, weaknesses, relational skills, etc. Once he has completed the assessment he will discuss the assessment with the pastor and his cluster leader.

The pastor has the option of selecting another MC if he does not feel he has a good fit. This should not be taken personally and it may be the case that the pastor may return to his original MC at a later date. It is very important that the MC/pastor relationship be one that is functional.

After a year or two the pastor should take on the role of MC for another pastor while maintaining his relationship with his own MC. Eventually, every pastor should have an MC, including denominational officials.


The first step would be to bring together a small group of pastors who have experience and vision for such a program. Experience might include coaching, mentoring, counselling, etc. This group will develop the initial policies and procedures and begin a pilot program. They will closely monitor the program and make necessary adjustments

All for now.


I'm Tom. I have a wonderful wife, 4 kids, a dog, and a cat. What more could a guy want.

@Tue 24 Feb, 2009 20:16Green Banner: 24 February, 2009Green Banner Vector Graphic

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