In the past, I’ve suggested the creation of clergy trading cards. But now, during the height of football season, I’d like to introduce a new concept: the Clergy Rating (or CR). With the ever-popular and hotly debated Quarterback Rating used to determine a passer’s performance, I’m advocating for a similar tool to judge a cleric’s Sunday morning acumen.
Why should Monday morning quarterbacking be left exclusively to football fans. Hello?! If you can’t sit around and critique your clergy around the water cooler on Monday morning, why even bother going to church on Sunday?
Here’s how it works: the priest is judged in two broad categories over which they have vast control — liturgy and preaching – and then several minor categories such as acolyte attentiveness and dress, attendance, quality of the coffee at coffee hour, etc. The CR is weighted most heavily in the two major categories but decent liturgy and an excellent sermon will still get dragged down slightly by poor quality incense, an acolyte wearing purple Converse hightops, and so on.
A perfect score is 100. Liturgy counts for 40%, preaching for 40%, and everything else adds up to 20% of the score. Simple, right? Even math-challenged Trinitarians (1+1+1=1) can figure this out. And because there is a degree of subjectivity (but only a little), the new CR will make great fodder for Monday morning talk radio (“Bob in Natick completely disagrees with our assessment that Fr. Smith had a good day behind the altar: ‘Are you kidding me? He totally bungled the breaking of the bread!’”).
To give you an idea of how this works in practice, I’ll rate a Sunday morning performance from a service I attended this summer in an undisclosed location. The cleric in question received a CR of 64. Here’s how the rating was derived:
Liturgy: 23 (out of 40) I have to say that 23 was generous. Points were deducted for not wearing a chasuble (It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 degrees; inappropriate liturgical attire is an automatic 5 point deduction); forgetting the words of the Collect for Purity and having to find reading glasses to finish it (3 point deduction); The Peace was basically a group hug and lasted as long as coffee hour (4 point deduction); sloppy or untoward manual acts (4 point deduction); and stumbling over the words of Institution (1 point deduction).
Preaching: 31 (out of 40) Overall a decent sermon for the middle of August. Points were deducted for an annoying hair flip habit in the pulpit; laughing at her own (mediocre) joke; and using a hint of a “stained glass voice.”
Other: 10 (out of 20) I didn’t take off for the low attendance — again, it was August. But points were deducted for the usher who grunted at me when handing me a bulletin (2 points); the adult acolyte who fell asleep during the sermon (3 points); and the lack of coffee at “coffee hour” (You can’t just have lemonade! — 5 point deduction.)
I hope this little lesson has been helpful as you begin to calculate your own priest’s CR at Sunday morning liturgies. Remember, clergy should always be judged, subjected to harsh critique, and then talked about behind their backs. Especially during coffee hour. This all helps to build up the Body of Christ.
And hey, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the sacristy.