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Why a Committee On Ministry?

From “The Committee On Ministry (COM) Model” by Rev. Robert T. Latham

I Limitations of the Ministerial Relations Committee

  • It has a limited focus on Congregation-Minister relationship as its label suggests. This narrows its function to only one possible facet of a congregation’s ministry and only one aspect of the purpose of professional leadership in congregational life.
     
  • Generally, only the professional minister is assessed as to effectiveness by this committee. The implication is that the minister owns the congregation’s mission and ministry.
     
  • The tendency is for the MRC to become the minister’s advocate—and its members are generally chosen to fill this role. That is, they normally are chosen because they already have a positive bias toward the existing minister.
     
  • Ministerial advocacy easily becomes counter-productive through non-objectivity and protectiveness. It may fall into the trap of “us versus them” attitudes and actions. The result is that the MRC perspective is often automatically discounted by many congregants as a skewed perspective. 

Question

Why is there need for a special PR committee to manage the relationship between the minister and the congregation? Does the existence of such a committee imply an inherent problem in the relationship that seems to denigrate both the capacity and stature of professionalism as well as congregational integrity? Is there a subtle implication that there is an inability on the part of the minister to empower her/his congregational relationship with inspiration, persuasion, and transformation—that the professional may not be able to be professional without an internal lay support committee? 

II Values of the Committee On Ministry

  • Represents the entire ministry of the congregation including both programmatic and personnel (lay and professional). It sees all leadership as servants of the congregation’s mission and ministry and all programs as intended enhancement.
     
  • It views ministers as professionals who need no special advocacy or relationship management other than that which they present out of their own self- empowerment (training, integrity, skills, devotion, wisdom, etc.).
     
  • Assesses the effectiveness of the entire ministry and its inter-related facets. Its perspective is the big picture—assumes no independent parts.
     
  • Advocates means for all parts that increase the effectiveness of the whole ministry.
     
  • Approaches the congregation as a holistic body of wisdom commitment which parts are mutually supportive and accountable.
     
  • Values, weighs and incorporates the perspectives of both professional and lay leadership and is devoted to the concept of collaborative leadership.
     
  • Assesses and performs with a posture of constancy relative to how the function of each part affects the function of the whole.
     
  • Being owned by the congregation it ultimately answers only to that body.

While the COM often deals with issues of conflict this  is not its primary function. Its primary function is to do all that is necessary to elevate the effectiveness of the congregation’s ministry in fulfillment of its mission and to do so from the standpoint of this ministry’s holistic nature and synergistic possibilities. However, an effective COM will significantly reduce the level of negative conflict by keeping the congregation’s eye on fulfilling its mission through it’s ministry. If it is appropriately assertive it will also deal effectively with issues of consequence before they snowball into congregation-wide conflict.

Principle

What is best for the whole is best for the part.

This means that the only function of the part is to enhance the power of the whole.  This power enhancement returns to the part as visible benefit.

III Who Needs a COM?

Whether a congregation employees a minister or not it must look to how well it is fulfilling its mission through its ministry. Thus, it will benefit from a COM which will perform exactly the same service as it would in a congregation that has professional leadership. The COM exists for the sake of the congregation’s mission and ministry to the world, irrespective of its structure of leadership. It is the congregation’s committee not the leadership’s committee. 

In this respect, the congregation without professional leadership will profit immeasurably from the service of a strong COM which would serve as a constant reminder of the mission for which it exists and a touchstone for effective ministry fulfillment.

The answer to the question is that it makes no difference the kind of leadership a congregation employs, the COM is about fulfillment of its mission through its ministry and is, therefore, deeply relevant to the oversight of potential success.

Principle

The congregation owns its mission and ministry irrespective of the nature or structure of its leadership.

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, August 19, 2013.

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