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  • Hawai‘i Conference

Understanding the Pastor as Both Spiritual Leader and Employee


In February third's gathering for churches, pastors, and lay leaders, the Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Lyons, Conference Minister of the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, shared what it means to be an employee of the church while being the pastor and the differences between a Pastor Parish Relations Committee and a Personnel Committee.


Click HERE to watch the presentation. (Password: sa6zU&Kw)


Spiritual Leader/Congregation & Employee/Employer Relationships Background

  • Pastors and congregations live in 2 realms – in but not of the world.

  • We experience this reality in many ways including our relationships as spiritual leaders of churches and as employees of those same congregations.

    • —Our specialized or beyond-the-parish ministers understand this relationship well

    • —COVID19 has increased our need to understand these relationships more clearly, and has in some ways increased tension and anxiety around them

Tools for navigating these relationships

  • Call agreements – employment contracts

  • 3-way covenants and 4-way covenants - set the parameters for how we live together as covenant partners in the United Church of Christ (view sample)

  • Performance Appraisal (Appreciative Inquiry approach) (view sample)

    • —Evaluation is very culturally specific and needs to be spelled out in the call agreement

    • —A moment to encourage everyone’s best ministry and hold one another to the goals and vision of our relationships together

Structures in which these tools are used

  • Local Congregation

  • Church Council

  • Pastor-Parish Relations Committee

  • Personnel Committee

Resources for Churches and Pastors

  • Call Agreement Workbook Used when calling a new pastor, writing a call agreement, and other tasks in pastor/parish relationship moments. ($2.50 from UCC Resources)

  • A Sure Foundation For developing and maintaining healthy pastor/parish relationships, including evaluations

  • The Pastoral Relations Committee For strengthening the local church prepared and published through support from the Strengthen the Church Offering by the United Church of Christ Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team

  • Pastoral Relations Committee Member A list of common practices, responsibilities, needed skills, etc.

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