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When Evaluation goes Wrong

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Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If that’s true then there are a lot of churches that are in existence that shouldn’t be. Along those lines this past week I had a great conversation with my Leadership Coaching Network about why evaluation seems to be avoided in church-world. Here are some of the reasons we came up with.

1. Personal Attachment

Often staff members see their sermon or ministry program as an extension of themselves as a result many can’t separate the discussion about a ministry program from their own personality or character.

2. Leading with “No”

Sometimes the evaluation derails when a group picks things a part and can’t get on the solution side of things.

3. Unclear Expectations

Evaluation bogs down when a team member is unclear about what they’re trying to accomplish and when a win is confusing.

4. Addiction to Tradition

The only people who like change are leaders because they’re pushing towards a preferred future. This usually means abandoning past successes or even traditions. Many churches do evaluation poorly because of sacred cows that can’t be touched.

5. Stonewalling

Some churches and staff are simply living in denial and refuse to be sober minded. As a result they stonewall and refuse to deal with their current reality.

6. Fear

Some churches and staff members refuse to approach evaluation seriously not out of a fear of what they may find but rather they may have to work harder or differently to obtain different results.

What would you add to the list? What’s your experience with evaluation in the church-world? Leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership

5 Responses to “When Evaluation goes Wrong”

  1. Ira Towns June 26, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    Sometimes hidden agendas get in the way. This can lead to a differing view of the event/program and differing evaluations

  2. Scott Savage February 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    When it comes to staff-wide evaluation…one big hang-up can be when accountability goes down but doesn’t go up. At that point, accountability becomes resented and distrust builds. When it comes to evaluation on a personal level, I always felt like yearly evaluation (ie performance reviews) were a broken system. If I only have one conversation per year on my performance, it must not be that important. And if I have to wait a year for feedback, something is missing in terms of the value of personal development. Thankfully, even when I’ve had yearly performance reviews, my supervisors have provided more ongoing feedback. For a millenial like myself, feedback is like oxgen.

  3. Nate January 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    How do you overcome personal attachment when doing evaluations? What can you say so that it does not seem as much a personal attack?

  4. David McGowin June 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    #4 resonated with me. Tradition is fine but if you are stuck in it, you simply cannot grow. I love the traditions of my denomination but feel as a whole we are needing drastic changes in order to grow. Thanks

    • Robert Woolley June 7, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

      I certainly love to see the younger generation in church. More younger than older in ours! Actually I love the newer music. But I find the older generation needs to feel valued for their experiences and can lead the younger to know what works and what doesn’t! We may be old but not dead! I feel left out and undervalued. That is what change does but I think there is a work around but then again I might one in a million?

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