Have you scheduled your Lay Leadership Committee (formerly known as the Nominations Committee)? Pastors know they need to have this report ready for Church Conference so leaders can be elected for next year. We all know that this is the only committee in the church where the pastor can serve as chair or co-chair.
But with a plate full of autumn ministries pastors all too often succumb to the “warm body” approach. Let’s ask so-and-so. She isn’t doing much in the church. Or there is my favorite, the “activate the inactive” by giving them a job. Or the “lower the bar” approach where “you don’t have to do very much to be on this committee.”
Do our churches have written job descriptions for committees and ministry teams? How are new people asked to serve? A single phone call from someone who doesn’t really understand how the committee works? A phone message? An email? Does anyone speak with a potential leader face to face, and perhaps with several conversations? Maybe the quality of our church leaders is partially dependent upon the quality of how they are courted and asked.
What is the criteria for choosing people to serve? I suggest each Lay Leadership Committee ask these questions when names are brought forward.
1. Does this person attend worship regularly?
2. Is there evidence that he/she is praying for the church?
3. Is this person a faithful giver, perhaps even a tither?
4. Is she/he involved in our community with acts of service?
5. Is this person able to share their Christian faith by words and actions with others?
You will notice that these are the vows for becoming a member of the United Methodist Church. Do you promise to support the Church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness?
Lay Leadership committees need to operate a bit like SPRC where they can share their discernment about their future leadership in confidence. It is high time that we all take leadership development more seriously. It rarely is a squeaky wheel so it rarely gets grease. Pastors deal with so many squeaky wheel clamoring for attention. But not everything that clamors for our attention should get it.
When it comes to creating a healthy church system leaders really need to make leadership development a high priority, especially in Alaska where we experience such high turnover. Revamping how we choose leaders this fall can be a great time to begin anew.