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Pastor and People

Pastor and People

Making Mutual Ministry Work

This leadership development book contains reproducible tools for use with your council, committees, planning teams, other leadership groups, and the congregation as a whole. These tools are available as a file that can be downloaded and customized. The tools for download are listed below (0806646519sample.rtf can be customized in word processing software).

Who might find it helpful
  • Pastors and those serving the pastoral role
  • Council presidents and members
  • Call committees
  • Congregational committees such as mutual ministry, pastor/parish relations, personnel, and human resources
  • Synod staff members and others who consult with congregations
What the book is about
Pastor and People is a guidebook of practical information on the relationship between ELCA pastors and congregations. Each chapter explores a different aspect of this relationship.

  • The relationship between pastor and people: A clergy perspective
  • The relationship between pastor and people: A lay perspective
  • The roles of a pastor and expectations of a congregation
  • Mutual ministry
  • Pastoral ministry support
  • Ministry review and performance evaluation
  • Personnel issues
This book has been developed in cooperation with the ELCA Division for Ministry and the Division for Congregational Ministries.

Questions & Answers

Is mutual ministry now done by four different committees?

There are mutual ministry, evaluation, support, and personnel functions that need to be carried out in each congregation. A mutual ministry committee has often taken on all four of these functions, but it is a very difficult combination to look at the ministry of both pastor and people, review the pastor's performance, provide the pastor with appropriate support, and set salaries, benefits, and personnel policies.

The book Pastor and People encourages you to first think about which groups in the congregation are already handling mutual ministry, evaluation, support, and personnel issues. If any of these areas are being overlooked, there is more than one way to address this. Some congregations will have a separate committee for each function. Others will combine two or more functions into one committee. The important thing is to make sure the work of mutual ministry, evaluation, support, and personnel is all handled. If one group is responsible for more than one of these areas, the issues should be dealt with separately.

We have been able to bring complaints about the pastor to our mutual ministry committee. What happens now if we have complaints?

In the course of scanning the congregation and community, a mutual ministry committee may discover an area of concern about the pastor or the congregation. The mutual ministry process in Pastor and People can build an atmosphere of honesty and trust where concerns can be discussed within the group openly and directly.

A mutual ministry committee, however, is not a place to bring anonymous complaints. If at all possible, discuss a concern about a pastor directly with that person. When it is necessary to involve other people in the conversation, in most congregations that should be the church council.

Is a mutual ministry committee responsible for the same things as a long-range planning committee?

The primary function of mutual ministry is to scan the congregation and community in order to make the ministry of both pastor and people more effective. This doesn't replace a long-range planning committee, which would look at the congregation and community more broadly in terms of future needs such as staffing, finances, and facilities.

The definitions of a mutual ministry committee in Pastor and People and Our Staff don't seem to be the same. Why is that?

The book Our Staff, released in 2002, focuses on lay staff members. The description of mutual ministry committees on pages 56-57 fits with the way these committees have often functioned.

The book Pastor and People, released in 2003, focuses not only on mutual ministry committees, but on what needs to be done for an effective relationship between pastors and congregations. It gives congregations the freedom to consider mutual ministry, evaluation, support, and personnel as separate issues that may be carried out by more than one committee.
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