Realistic and hopeful: Baptist and Presbyterian experience of clergy review in New Zealand
Coleman, Vivian Fay
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This qualitative research study utilises Grounded Theory Methodology to explore the “salient features of clergy review” in NZ Baptist and Presbyterian denominations, by contrasting Human Resource Management practices in churches with the wisdom of the business world. In a turbulent social environment, churches need self-aware, collaborative, future-focussed leaders to bring human capital to their organisation and the wider community. Using interviews with clergy, as well as organisational documentation and policy, a theoretical construct, ‘the pastoral tie’ is developed to describe and interpret the ministers’ experience of review, and of the practices of the churches involved. This is centred upon the concept of review as conversation, a model which enables respectful and trusting communication about church and clergy needs and development. A key finding of the research is that clergy review can be strategic both for the individual and the organisation, by contributing to effective management of qualified, knowledgeable, and committed human resources. Appropriately-nuanced ministry review processes can bring positive affirmation, challenge of inadequacies, acquisition of new skills, and appraisal of the pastor-people fit. When well-timed reviews are both “realistic and hopeful”, they can support ministry effectiveness and longevity, and help answer important organisational questions about the present and the future.