Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Make Church Decisions

Interesting title? Here's an observed fact: 9 out of 10 churches I've worked with do not have a useful decision making process they use.

That may sound like a bold statement but when I ask, "How will this decision be made in this church  and who will make it?" the most often given answer is an embarrassed shrug of the shoulders and eventually "the elders will make it."

Here's a corollary statement: elderships in our fellowship are generally ill-equipped to make decisions.

So here's our two statements:

1.  9 out of 10 churches do not have a useful decision making process they use
2.  Elderships in our fellowship are generally ill-equipped to make decisions.

What sparked my writing on decision making is a recent blog post at Church & Culture (James Emory White) titled Bone Structure. White makes the statement, I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to lead a seminar or conference, lay out some simple decision or action that would radically improve a church’s health or effectiveness, and have it be met by a chorus of leaders saying, “We can’t do that."

This has been both my experience and my feelings as well. Elderships at heart are a committee and we're all probably familiar with the phrase 'committees are where ideas go to die.' And when we look at the role of elders the capacity to make body-level decisions may be implied, but it is not explicit. The result is that a man may be well qualified to be a shepherding elder but he may not be gifted or experienced at making body-level decisions. The result is the weakest link in the group holds back the others.

The second common scenario is that one person holds a minority view yet because of character strength, respect by others, or willingness to "die on the sword" rather than change opinions that person effectively employs the one-person veto. Either way, low capability to make body-level decisions or the one-person veto, decisions cannot be made and so opportunities are missed.

So what answer can be given? White says, "Let leaders lead." That still leaves the question open as the what leaders? Here's my answer: those people who have both the personality capacity and role authority. If a person by personality type is able to assess situations and options then to make decisions easily let's lean on this giftedness from God. It also means that we lean on the church body to recognize people for leader roles. When personality type and role coincide we  recognize both God's gifting and the church's wisdom. Let's then release these God-gifted, community recognized people to do what they are best suited to do: make decisions.

No comments: