Healthy, wise leadership is essential to the growth and vitality of our congregations, yet leadership development can easily become an afterthought. Here is a brief overview of where we come from and where we are going.
After being elected at an annual congregational meeting, nominating committees tend to start their work as the next annual meeting approaches. They spend a couple of meetings going through the directory and making calls to fill the empty positions designated in the congregation's bylaws.
Nominating committees exist for a variety of reasons: to reducing self-perpetuation of current leaders, to scout out potential new members, and to keep “the wrong people” off the board.
Shifting to a New Paradigm
Our old model of leadership recruitment did not account for realties in today's congregations:
- Few people belong to voluntary organizations (see Bowling Alone) where they develop leadership skills. In fact, our congregations may be serving as one of the few training grounds for leaders.
- The ethos of leadership in the corporate world is often grounded in top-down leadership that is in conflict with our Congregational Polity.
- Leading in a diverse covenantal community requires many more "soft skills" and sensibilities around identity and culture.
- In our post-modern world, there are fewer conventions about what is healthy behavior and relationship.
- Today's leaders want to serve something greater than themselves while growing and learning. They are much less likely to serve out of a sense of duty.
Create Your New Paradigm
We recommend you use the resources in this section as a study resource, then plan a day-long retreat to re-magine how you might shift your own congregation's culture toward leadership development as an ongoing part of faith development. Here are some things to consider:
- Your purpose is to develop leaders who can faithfully serve the mission and vision of the congregation.
- You want managers who can keep the congregation running and leaders that will help move your congregation forward.
- Your leaders need to good partners with your minister(s) and staff as well as other leaders.
- You can start your work alongside your membership folks, at the earliest stages of belonging.
- You can create an expectation of ongoing education and training for all leaders.
- Your leaders will have a strong sense of shared ministry by working in teams.
- You will want to find ways to assess how well the shared ministry is progressing.