Criminal justice experts debate whether those guilty of homicide can be reformed. Conservatives tend to say “no,” liberals tend to say “yes,” and Christians often say that since regeneration transforms the worst of us into new individuals, that fact should at least be taken into consideration by parole boards.
But that’s not my area of expertise.
Churches are my world, so last week I wrote about killer committees. Killer committees can have serious, detrimental effects on their churches, sometimes going so far as to destroy them completely.
By way of reminder: committees should help their churches to fulfill their God-given mission of glorifying God (Ephesians one) by making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
Last week I wrote very briefly about committees that:
- Are ruined by dysfunctional leaders, or
- Have long outlived their usefulness, or
- Major on criticizing the rest of the church for not sharing their individual passions.
But the focus of my post was committees – often called “siloed” committees – which detract from the God-given, disciple-making mission of their churches, siphoning off energy and confusing the hearts and minds of their committee members.
In the worse-case scenario, on the second Tuesday night of the month, eight committees in eight rectangular siloes (classrooms) are all working hard at advancing eight different agendas for their church. All too often, the church’s God-given mission of disciple-making becomes nothing more than the special interest represented by one of these eight committees – usually called the “evangelism committee.” Shouldn’t the whole church serve as the evangelism committee?
Here’s what mission-minded pastors and other church leaders can do to reform their killer committees:
(1) They can execute some committees ASAP. In spite of my “ASAP,” this is likely a long-term, rather than a short-term fix. No pastor should ever try this alone. Realistically, putting committees “to sleep” might require an extensive period of board member training before it can be done without serious repercussions for church unity.
(2) They can work long and hard at convincing their churches that they exist to make disciples. Church members who are actually convinced of this – and most are not – are willing to take a fresh look at committees. Legitimate committees help their churches advance their missions; illegitimate committees are special interest groups, doing “their own thing” for their own reasons.
(3) They can seek to move their congregations away from representative leadership. I’m talking about church structures which mandate that the leadership team is made up – at least in part – of the leaders of various “tenured” ministries.
This kind of system seems to make sense to many but often results in complete stagnation, as ministries and strategies are never evaluated objectively. Every ministry represented by someone sitting at the boardroom table becomes sacred and untouchable.
The goal should be having a team of like-minded individuals around the leadership table who are so thoroughly committed to the church’s mission and vision that they are willing to retire even their own, long-treasured committees and ministries.
(4) They can use strategic planning sessions to work at bringing alignment to all church ministries, committees and teams. As part of a bold, Spirit-led process, they can engage in zero-based strategic planning. Zero-based strategic planning means that we begin by asking: Who owns our church? What is it for? Who is it for? How are we going to do “what it’s for”? What do we long for it to become?
Zero-based strategic planning is likely to zero-out the altar decorating committee, the youth ministry advisory committee and possibly a few more.
In addition, while refreshing their core documents, they can remove all mention of specific committees and ministries from the church’s constitution and/or by-laws. Healthy churches expect their leaders to figure out what ministries are needed to pursue their mission and fulfill their vision.
The common denominators in all of the above? Time, teaching, persuasion, persistence and prayer. Let me know if I can help.