Overview on Committees on Ministry
“I was just elected to my congregation’s Committee on Shared Ministry, and we’re not sure exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. Can you help?”
“I hear that my congregation is supposed to have a Committee on Ministry, but we don’t. How do we start one? What should it do?”
We hear questions like these a lot. In this time when volunteer time and energy are precious and getting rarer, congregational leaders are often reluctant to staff a committee with no clear purpose. And volunteers are frustrated by vague descriptions of the role of their committee.
Theory and best practices about Committees on Ministry (or CoMs, also called Committees on Shared Ministry) have shifted several times in the recent past, and we feel they need to shift again for the current moment. We have collected the wisdom of Congregational Life staff with experience in congregations in different regions, congregations of different sizes, and congregations with different helpful and unhelpful experiences of Committees on Ministry to bring you our suggestions for CoMs right now.
Our goal is to give you the insights, ideas, tools, and permission to do the work of the Committee on (Shared) Ministry effectively, skillfully, faithfully, and in a way that feels purposeful and doable for your volunteers.
Ready for our hot take of the moment?
You Don’t Need to Have a Committee on Ministry!
But you do need to attend to the functions that have typically been managed by CoMs.
As is true in every area of congregational life, there is not a single way to do things that will work for every congregation. Some congregations will choose to assign all of these functions to a single standing committee, as has been the model in the past. If that works for you, great! We’ll have some suggestions for the specific functions that you can give to your CoM members to help.
But if staffing a new standing committee - or even staffing a long existing CoM is difficult or impossible for your congregation, there are other ways to make sure these specific functions are being skillfully attended to. In fact, other people or committees in your congregation may already be doing some of them right now.
If your congregation is large and rich in volunteers, you may actually want to break up some of these functions and give them to even more specialized teams.
Committee on Ministry Functions
Here are the functions that are often assigned to a Committee On Ministry that we believe are important to attend to:
- Serving as thought partners to the minister(s)
- Providing feedback from the congregation to the minister(s)
- Performing regular formal evaluations of the minister(s)
- Assessment of the congregation’s mission, and how the programs of the congregation align (or do not align) with the mission - or more generally attending to congregational vitality
- Serving as the internal think tank for the congregation
- Facilitating conflict engagement and resolution between members of the congregation, between the minister and congregational members, or between other congregational staff and congregation members
Other resources in this series on CoM Resources: