By Leslene Peat-Brown
It would appear that sitting on nominating committees is becoming an increasingly stressful and painful experience for many of our members; not to mention the amount of time that is often expended in this process. Why should it be so? Is it because members do not want the responsibility of leadership? Or do they feel unprepared or uninformed? Is it a lack of confidence, resulting in fear?
Whatever the reasons, the nominating process in a number of churches has become a daunting one. So how can we take the pain out of the nominating process?
This is vital. Prior to the sitting of the nominating committee, the church as a corporate body should be called to prayer and fasting, for example, a week before.
During this time of preparation, the pastor and elders should impress upon the members the importance of allowing God to lead them: (a) to commit themselves to service, and (b) to allow wise decisions to be made during the nominating process.
Another area of preparation, is what I refer to as ‘skill matching’. Members should be assigned to the various roles/ministries based on several criteria, with which we are familiar; local church membership, a strong level of commitment to its mission and the basic qualities required for leadership.
However, I would like to take this a bit further and focus on the area of skill matching. In the corporate world, employees are generally assigned to their roles because they have the appropriate qualifications, abilities and skills to perform them. In the same way members should be matched to the various roles because of the skills they can bring to that ministry.
The person’s gifts and abilities must fit the position to which they are assigned.
Prior to the nominating committee meeting, some churches will even ask members to indicate what department or ministry they would like to work in. Coupled with that it might be wise for a ‘Spiritual Gifts Inventory’ (SGI) to be carried out so members can enumerate the skills/qualifications / abilities they have that would enhance a particular ministry. All too often members are placed in positions in which they soon find themselves completely out of their depth.
A form indicating the various ministries in the church may also be distributed to the members, allowing individuals to indicate:
- Where they have served
- Where they are currently serving
- Where they would like to serve
- Availability to serve.
A word of caution: Throughout the process it is important that the chairperson does not allow negative discussions about any individual. He or she must direct the discussion to the skill the person will bring to the position, and whether that member works well in a team.
Information from the SGI can be stored in a database. When new members are added to the church, they can also be requested to complete the SGI. At the time of nominating committee meeting, the committee members should be provided with a “printout” of the information, thereby making the nominating process far easier and less time-consuming.
Create a climate for potential leaders
If leaders are to be successful, they must learn to develop other leaders around them. It is therefore the duty and the responsibility of the pastor, in particular, to create the environment and climate for good leaders.
“Great leaders produce other leaders, and when they fail to do so it is either because they lack training, or because they possess wrong attitudes about allowing and encouraging others to come alongside them”.J Maxwell
Leaders must also provide opportunities for growth once they have identified potential leaders in the congregation. According to Maxwell, when potential leaders are identified we should ask, “What does this person need in order to grow? the right atmosphere allows potential leaders to bloom and grow”. It is also important, that once we discover what an individual needs to grow, we must nurture them as potential leaders. Leaders in any organisation, especially in the church, must be the catalyst for change.
This is crucial. Sometimes members are placed in positions that they have little or no knowledge about; neither do they have the skills that the post requires. Consequently, they end up ‘muddling’ their way through, or else resign after a few months in post.
Training should be ongoing. A one-off training on the first Sunday in January as a yearly event is certainly not enough. It is therefore incumbent on the pastor and elders to initiate and engage in training programmes so each member/potential leader can be taught what their role entails, in order for them to efficiently and confidently have a positive impact on the congregation, and lead others to Christ through their ministry.
The church’s evangelistic programme should be a holistic and strategic plan that includes well-organised and structured training programmes for its members and potential leaders.
Training should also take place at another level. For example, if there is a leader and an assistant, it is the responsibility of the leader to train the assistant and team members with the view that they might one day become leaders themselves. This then creates a continuous training cycle, which means that there will always be a pool of trained individuals/potential leaders waiting to lead. This would certainly make it a lot easier for nominating committees. Nominating committees will have a much more efficient, less time -consuming system of selecting members, thus avoiding the problems that currently prevail and thereby removing the ‘pain’ from the nominating process.
If we are to be the head and not the tail, we must have a much more co-ordinated, organised, and structured method for selecting members to office. After all, this is God’s church and His desire is to make it, “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”. (Ephesians 5:27, KJV).
Maxwell, J.C. (1966), Partners in Prayer. Thomas Nelson.