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What Are the Committee On Ministry’s Functions?
Congregational Administration, Congregational Administration

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

I. Education (Ministry Awareness)

  • Hold high the congregation’s mission and ministry:  
    • New member orientations  
    • Annual Mission-Covenant Renewal Service  
    • Appropriate usage of the Mission Covenant statement (brochures, paraphernalia, worship services, etc.)  
    • Annual Meeting Reports  
    • Monthly Board Reports  
    • All ministry component mandates  
    • Retreats, workshops, leadership meetings  
    • COM brochure outlining its function and availability  
    • High committee visibility in all aspects of the  congregation’s life

II. Assessment (Ministry Status)

  • Establishes reasonable rhythms and cycles between congregational assessments and professional leadership assessments—normally, every other year.  
  • Focuses on clarity and conciseness.  
  • All assessments are tailored to the congregation’s perceived ministry needs. Assessment tools are not canned—they are deliberately created with specific ends in mind—avoids the misimpression that one size fits all.  
  • Reports and recommends to the various agents of ministry, the board, and the congregation—whenever and however it is most appropriate.  
  • Its useful gages are the congregation’s mission-covenant statement, by-laws, standing rules, group mandates, policies, vision goals, out-standing issues, state of functionality, spiritual mood, perceived needs, and social impact.

III. Recommendations (Ministry Improvement)

No agent of the congregation’s ministry is exempt from evaluation by and recommendation from the COM.  The synergistic power of wholeness demands attention be paid to every part.

  • Approach (Empowerment)  
    • Improvement over blame  
    • Potential over problem  
    • Positive over negative  
    • Redemption over estrangement  
    • Transparency over hiddenness  
    • Mission over all other agenda  
  • The Congregation’s Interdependent Web (Mutual Affect)  
    • Every ministry agent of the congregation  
    • Board  
    • Lay leadership  
    • Staff  
    • Professional leadership

IV. Protection (Ministry Threat)

  • Irrespective of source  
    • Individual
    • Group
    • Staff
    • Minister  
  • Irrespective of nature  
    • A misunderstanding
    • An issue
    • A conflict
    • A program or event
    • A proposal
    • A vision  
  • Posture  
    • Pro-active
    • Neutrality
    • Win-Win
    • Reconciliation/Redemption
    • Active listening
    • Gain clarity
    • Face to face
    • No anonymity
    • Assumed responsibility
    • No triangulation
    • Conversion of negative to positive
    • Creativity
    • Firm follow-through till the issue is brought to as satisfactory a resolution is possible.

Given this posture, how does the COM avoid triangulation?  Being triangulated is essentially assuming responsibility for another party’s issue.  It relieves the concerned party of responsibility for issue outcome.  The COM avoids this by requiring that the party involved take ownership of the expressed concerns or suggestions and by policies that require the party to go through some process that assumes responsibility for outcome.  In other instances it may point the concerned party to existing information or prior decisions that address the concern or suggestion, thereby enabling the individual to arrive at a proper outcome of ownership and ascertain a rightful conclusion.

This does not mean that the COM does not have opinions about issues that come its way.  It does.  After all, one of its goals is to both enhance and protect mission/ministry consciousness. However, when possible, it avoids stating its opinions in favor of creating processes and providing information that empower the party involved to arrive at perceived outcomes that are in the best interest of the congregation’s mission and ministry.  This is a creative endeavor that is designed to enable such parties to raise their level of devotion to why the congregation exists and, if pertinent, to reduce their level of commitment to consumer attitudes.

This approach might be called mission/ministry objectivity.  However, it is not cold. It has a warm compassionate edge. Its goal is always redemptive in terms of a higher level of commitment beyond personal agenda toward why the congregation exists and insights about how parts and the whole relate in synergistic possibility. A great deal of the COM’s stature derives from this non-instructional approach to both members and their issues.

  • Means  
    • Through pre-established policies and procedures.  
      • How COM members respond uniformly to all expressions and concerns.  
      • How any congregation member can process a concern or make a suggestion.  
      • How all concerns and suggestions will be consummated through satisfaction, resolution, impasse, or cessation.
    • Through created processes  
    • Through presentation of information  
    • Through mediated assistance  
  • Approach Questions  
    • Are judgments made with a view toward principle?  
    • Are judgments made with a view toward a specific end?  
    • Are judgments made with a view toward the distinction between task and relationship orientations?  
    • Are judgments made with a view toward a conflict management outcome?  
    • Are judgments made with a view toward the paramount issue of mission fulfillment?

IV. Threats To Success

  • Permitted triangulation  
  • Low creativity  
  • Inflexibility  
  • Lack of courage  
  • Elevating any agenda over ministry well-being and mission fulfillment  
    • Friendship preservation  
    • Private goals  
    • Status quo  
  • Attacks on the COM  
    • Typical insult of COM member integrity when concern about the minister is involved and perceived satisfaction is not gained: “The COM lives in the back pocket of the minister.” This accusation reflects:  
      • Elevation of the part over the whole  
      • Processing a consumer agenda  
      • Refusal to trust lay leadership  
      • Assumes the minister inordinately influences anyone but themself.  
    • Typical insult of COM as a whole that it “Processes through secrecy and is not transparent.”  This accusation reflects a refusal to acknowledge the necessity of confidentiality in COM proceedings.  
      • Secrecy is an attempt to hide information for purposes of control, manipulation and the gain of unwarranted power or to preserve the needs of friendship.  
      • Confidentiality is an attempt to keep avenues of communication open, to honor the need of people for privacy; to facilitate the well-being of all involved, to allow time for resolution, to avoid harmful misinformation and gossip and to prohibit the possibility of escalation.

IV. Successful Meeting Necessities

  • Absolute confidentiality by all members.  
  • Commitment to group wisdom.  
  • Attendance of non-members by invitation only.  
  • Always meets at a private venue (never at the congregation’s meeting site).  
  • Not publicized except as to date and contact person for communication of suggestions or concerns.

V. Certification/Ordination Recommendations

(relative to those interested in the professional ministry or representing its normal professional services).

  • Establishes governing policies that are adopted by the Board of Trustees.  
  • Vets and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

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