“I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3)
There are two types of parish council self-assessments; 1) the individual parish council member self-assessment where a member evaluates their own performance in office and 2) the general parish council self-assessment where each member evaluates the performance of the entire parish council as a whole. Both are useful and valuable for nominations, board development, self-examination, performance enhancement, retreat and strategic planning exercises, etc. The document below answers frequently asked questions pertaining to the general parish council self-assessment. This may be useful in explaining the assessment instrument to parish councils that have never undertaken one before.
1) Why should parish councils undertake a general self-assessment?
Parish council members receive an opportunity to:
Reflect on their personal and corporate responsibilities
Identify various perceptions and opinions among parish council members
Note questions that need further attention
Use the responses to formulate a plan for parish council development
Clarify parish council and priest expectations
Exercise the fundamental Christian virtue of the willingness to be held accountable
Provide credibility before the parish
Look at its own performance in addition to providing useful feedback to the priest
2) How often should parish councils engage in general self-assessment as differentiated from individual parish council member self-assessments?
Every two or three years is usually adequate for a stable and engaged parish council. Assessment can be particularly helpful just before a strategic planning process, prior to launching a capital campaign, following a major crisis or if the parish council has lapsed into an extended period of preserving the status quo. If there is a change in priests, this may also be an important time for a parish council self-assessment.
3) How common are general parish council self-assessments among Orthodox parishes?
General parish council self-assessment is rare, usually because priests and parish council chair are commonly unaware of the formal parish council or board development process that should be integrated into all church governing bodies. Those parishes that do engage in general parish council self-assessment, however, appear to be well-served by the practice. An engaged, accountable, self-reflective parish council that embraces the professional board development process and understands the difference between governance and management is typically, together with the priest, leading and serving an exceptional parish.