One of the biggest mistakes some UM Churches do is to turn the Pastor Parish Relations Committee into a Staff Parish Relations Committee. On the surface this sounds democratic and good. Everyone on the staff has direct access to the personnel committee. However, there are many ramifications of this decision and only one of them is good. The only good one is that it makes staff feel better. But that is all. It does not make Staff better off one bit.
The best model is for the Pastor Parish Relations Committee to relate only to the Senior Pastor. They should hold her/him accountable and expect him/her to do the same with the staff. If they like the way things are going they recommend continuation. If they do not like the way things are going, they ask for a new appointment. The PPRC evaluates the Senior Pastor who in turn is responsible for the evaluation of each staff member. This insures that the pastor can give direction to the staff without interference. If the Pastor is not capable of that then he/she should not be in a church with staff. There is no business in the world where a staff person has nine people to whom to relate. If a problem arises, it is much harder to solve with a SPRC. In addition, it is rare for a committee to know much about what most staff are doing.
The most they know is what they hear from others and usually all that they hear is the negative stuff. Also, because of the nature of a church, it is not unusual for staff to have personal relationships with one or two of the people on the committee. If problems arise, there is always the opportunity to “triangulate” the situation instead of the person and the pastor working it out.
Even when there is an associate pastor the committee should relate only to the Senior Pastor, unless the church is at the size that the Senior Pastor is not responsible for the staff. Instead there is a Senior Associate or an Executive Pastor who is responsible. In that case both the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor attend the committee. Still the Senior Pastor is who is finally held responsible.
Some churches make the horrible mistake of assigning each staff member to one of the SPRC members. talk about a formula for disaster. Now it is possible for staff to have problems with the Senior Pastor and the problem be discussed with the SPRC member before the Senior Pastor. Triangulation can occur now in as many times as there are staff members.
The best model is for the PPRC to evaluate the Senior Pastor and hold him/her accountable for the direction of the church. And let the Senior Pastor design a method of evaluation and hiring of the staff. If the Senior Pastor is not mature enough to do this, then that is another story and we all know what that is – not put or leave that person in that position.
Only the most spiritual leaders of the church should serve on this committee.