Say the word “evaluation” and many people run the opposite direction. It’s reputation is sadly sullied and scarred for many reasons — some valid and some undeserved. Employees expect evaluation as a normal job requirement. When it comes to volunteers, however, organizations hesitate to require evaluation. They do not want to offend or de-motivate their volunteers. After all, the volunteers are doing the organization a service just by showing up!
In the case of a church board we have to consider its role within a non-profit agency, as well as a spiritual community. Measuring the effectiveness of the board and its members consistently can demonstrate to external and internal bodies the serious attention the board gives to its work. As well, the relationship between church health and a spiritually vibrant and effective board indicates how critical is the capacity of a board and its members to lead well.
Theologically we should not have to justify evaluation in any ministry setting. The accountability that Jesus holds us to as believers, the many references to a “tested” faith, and the indications by Paul that only reliable people, i.e. those who demonstrated spiritual wisdom and leadership should be appointed as leaders, all point to the benefits of consistent, thoughtful evaluation. Church boards are doing evaluation (or should be) in the case of key vocational ministry leaders, programs, resource management, etc. This is the only way the board can assure themselves that the key results essential to the vision are being achieved. So evaluating themselves as board members should not be a surprising innovation or expectation.