Thrust yourself forward in time about two years. Our new pastor has now settled into the normal flow of his ministry here at Calvary and he has had two years to teach, preach, and lead. As you look back on the past two years how will you evaluate his ministry thus far? How would you grade him on a performance evaluation? What measuring rod or gauge would you use to arrive at your conclusions about his ministry?
Perhaps you would simply use objective criteria and evaluate his ministry in terms of attendance figures, church income, and converts—bodies, bucks, and baptisms. A successful pastor is one under whom the church grows.
Perhaps you would use a more subjective standard. What is the atmosphere of the church? Are people happy, is there peace, are there no divisions?
You may take a more personal approach. Do people like him? Is he kind, personable, affectionate, and irenic? Does he seem to be genuinely interested in me, my family, and my friends?
Our next pastor (or at least the kind of pastor we are seeking) would have you know that he does not want to be evaluated by any of these criteria.
Take the first approach, the objective. By these standards the mega-church TV “prosperity-gospel” preachers and most cult leaders would be awarded high marks while the Old Testament prophets would each receive a failing grade. The subjective approach is fickle. Every church is populated by at least a few people who simply will not be happy. Paul warned us that divisions are often necessary in a church—
I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it, because there must be divisions among you so it will become obvious who is approved among you. (1 Cor. 11:19)
Probably the worst way to evaluate a preacher is his likability. Churches turn their pastors into politicians when they do this. Paul warned Timothy about churches that would call pastors who would merely scratch them behind the ear and keep everyone happy (2 Timothy 4:3).
Perhaps it would be wise to ask ourselves how God would have us evaluate this man’s ministry. Listen to how Paul would have the Corinthians evaluate his ministry—
As for us, let people think of us as Christ’s attendants and stewards of God’s mysteries. The key thing that is sought in stewards is that they be found faithful. (1 Cor. 4:1-2)
So the question we should ask ourselves as we evaluate a pastor’s ministry is this, has this man been faithful in teaching the Word of God and pointing us in the direction God would have us go as He has revealed His will in His Word? How well the church prospers under that kind of ministry is more a result of us who are members of this church than it is of the pastor’s ministry. God blesses obedience and judges disobedience.
What will happen during the next two years when a church discipline issue arises and the person under discipline is related to several key families in the church? What if several members become vocal in the promotion of some kind of false teaching? Will we be thankful for a pastor who, because of his faithfulness to God and His Word, has to take a stand that will be unpopular with some?
When our new pastor arrives, if we are careful in vetting and calling him, he will faithfully show us from the Scriptures how we should function as a church. Will we be equally as faithful in following him? Our new pastor would have you know that his first responsibility is to be pleasing to God, not his flock. Will we be pleased to have that kind of pastor?