October 2010 All things should be done decently and in order.
1 Cor. 14:40
Here are some tidbits that might spur some other thinking or reading on your part and the part of leaders in your church.
On Committees as Supervisors
Dan Hotchkiss has written a very practical guide to governance in a congregational church. In Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership (Alban Institute, 2009. You may purchase any Alban book through our office at discounted prices.), Hotchkiss about effective and ineffective ways of doing church governance with an eye to mission.
One ineffective matter I hear our interim ministers bumping up against is a church employee who claims to answer to a committee or to the whole congregation. Hotchkiss responds this way:
I have concluded that “a staff member reports to a committee” is one of
those things you can say in English but it makes no sense. Committees
simply cannot supervise paid staff, because they are not present when
the work is done, and it is too difficult for them to speak with one voice. (Page 52)
Don’t get me started on the church secretary answering to the congregation as a whole or being chair of the Pastor Search Committee.
Placing the Finance Reports in the Agenda
Another idea I picked up from Clif Christopher is helpful in planning a board meeting agenda. He writes of observing his congregation early in his ministry. At board meetings, the budget was always discussed first.
I quickly learned that if the budget was balanced, then everyone seemed to
be happy. If it was not, then there was considerable consternation and insistence that "we must do something about it." All the other reports seemed to be secondary to this one, not only in sequence but in importance.
Christopher suggests that the mission and vision of the church always be revisited first, then the ministries reported as they relate to the mission, and finally, the budget reported and discussed as it was supporting the mission.
Have You Noticed Any Changes?
Nancy Ammerman at the Hartford Seminary is a keen observer of American Christianity. In a remark about the difference between churches that are making relevant changes and churches that are not, she said
One of the first things we discovered about adapting congregations
was that they simply notice what is going on around them. Declining congregations often barely realize that the world has changed.
I hope you enjoy the coolness, colors, and harvests of autumn.
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