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Baptisms? Average attendance? Offerings? Percentage gifts to mission causes? Humor? Good haircut? Nice wardrobe? Visit the sick? Leadership? Adherence to tradition? Community visibility? Entertaining sermons?

What is the ministry scorecard now? Why is ministry tenure so short?

You can track the numbers about ministry turnover and the reasons people leave churches at many respected research sites. Their data affirms the spiking pressure gauges suddenly so visible in spiritual leaders. Though there are many reliable organizations that gather survey information and process their findings, several have been most useful in the next chapter God has designed for me---- (Francis A. Schaeffer Institute)

So, pastors, staffers, and spiritual leaders [1] retire from ministry. Time to celebrate. Some are [2] fired for legitimate reasons. Time for repentance, prayer, and restoration. Many more [3] quit, disappointed and broken. Time to embrace and encourage. And, then, [4] many are fired for no apparent reason whatsoever. Time to repent and change. Categories [3] and [4] are my concern in this context, the ones who leave their assignments, and the ones who are forced to walk away for no biblical reason. They are what the numbers are mostly about anyway. What is more, there's a connection between them. In so many cases the tragedies are the results of an unclear ministry scorecard, that is, what congregations expect of their leaders.

Once again, there's plenty of biblical clarity about the responsibilities of spiritual leaders---pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, and those serving in the great community of the church, associations, denominations, and entities included. Paul wrote about them, Peter referenced some of them in his Epistles, and Jesus certainly explained them to his intimate circle. I will not list the Scriptural notations here. My preferred reference material is Henry and Richard Blackaby's Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda (B & H Books, 2001). It is a concise and clearly written guide to the character, leadership, and direction of every person holding spiritual leadership in the church. This work, in the thorough manner that the Blackaby's usually bring to scholarship and the practice of ministry, develops a scorecard for spiritual leaders.

The trip wire in ministry today is that so many congregations have super-imposed their own expectations as a replacement of the biblical standards. Usually they are informal systems not mandated by the church's governing documents and are typically never communicated to candidates for spiritual leadership. When these rules and regulations, informal as they may be, supersede Scriptural instruction there is an immediate disconnect in the roles, authority, and mission of the spiritual leaders. It's a long and complex issue, too large to be addressed in this context. But, there are some points to consider---

1. The SBC is a non-hierarchical convention united by The Baptist Faith and

Message (2000), and our commitment to the Great Commission.

2. Pastoral and church staff leadership is conditioned by relatively short tenure,

and churches often must develop internal spiritual leadership systems in order

for continuation of ministry when the pastor/staff are in constant transition.

3. There is little accountability in the informal systems, either in the internal

functions of the church, or at associational, state convention, or convention

levels. Most congregations are fiercely independent in this regard.

4. Many outdated processes predominate the metrics of pastor/staff search and

few of the informal expectations are presented to candidates. Eager, expectant

pastors and staff members, and their families, often enter a new field of service

without a clue about these informal measures.

5. As a result, the ministry scorecards are seldom clarified.

In one circumstance, I asked a pastor, under fire for a list of miniscule grievances after less than a year of service, what he had expected when he became their leader. He said, "We expected the fruit of the spirit and what we got was sour grapes". Their scorecard for his ministry had devolved from biblical measures of pastoral leadership to a long list of personal preferences, likes and dislikes, and critical commentary about his dress, style, and mannerisms. What they communicated to him and his family was, "you are not good enough!" In this case, there were 200 ministry score cards and he couldn't measure up to a single one.

As denominational leaders ponder the state of the church in America the tenure and service of pastors/staff must be ratcheted up a notch or fifteen. One key element of this consideration must be to clarify the biblical scorecard that measures leadership effectiveness and the role of those called to lead local churches. Giving to the Cooperative Program or even affirming the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) cannot be the only basis for participation in our mission. How this can be accomplished in a non-hierarchical convention may be the question of the hour.

Far too often the dilemma faced by spiritual leaders is the pleasing God or men thing.

...for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

John 12:43 (NASB)

But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:29 (NASB)

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10 (NASB)

...but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NASB)

Guess which option is the real ministry scorecard?

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