Many people agree that too much money is spent on political campaigns, despite the fact that we expect leaders in public office to do vital work. Of course, in financial terms, it is much less expensive to identify congregational leaders than it is to run for office. But when we reflect on the redemptive significance of our ministries, we may need to rethink the process we use to find and nurture congregational leaders.
Good leadership is essential in a variety of settings — from sports teams to manufacturing plants to congregations. However, selecting church leaders is often a well-intentioned process that is rooted in flawed assumptions. For starters, some congregations assume that a committee is the ultimate decision maker regarding the people selected to serve. Informed by denominational polity and church by-laws, the nominating committee approaches the task of finding leaders by asking idle members to fill the vacant positions. Depending upon the church demographics, the committee may recruit members to serve in their area of professional expertise.
Professional expertise can be helpful, for sure. But the question every selection committee needs to consider is some version of Isaiah 6:8, in which God asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Congregational leadership selection, at its best, is a process of spiritual discernment: that is, what is God doing, and who is God calling to serve? When we start with the assumption that the Spirit guides the process, we might be drawn to consider leaders we previously overlooked. When we start with the “God question” in addition to expertise, we consider the degree to which candidates possess or are open to cultivate virtues like wisdom, love and humility.
As you think about how your congregation selects leaders, the resources this week will help you reflect on what makes leadership distinctively Christian. You may choose to use some of these materials with new or potential leaders to prepare them to follow the one who always leads us toward the cross.
By Nathan Kirkpatrick
By C. Kavin Rowe
By David L. Odom
Q&A with Sanyin Siang
Lilly Endowment Inc. launches new Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative
Through this national competitive initiative, Lilly Endowment is inviting charitable organizations to apply for grants of up to $1.25 million to create new and/or enhance existing programs that help parents and caregivers share their faith more confidently with their children. The Endowment anticipates awarding approximately 60 grants to charitable organizations that submit the most promising and compelling proposals.
The Endowment is offering virtual information sessions that will review the RFP and application process on Monday, October 24 and Tuesday, November 1. An online Interest Form with Letter of Interest must be submitted by December 5, 2022.
Before you go…
We all wish we could read a simple “how to” guide to tell us how to select spiritual leaders. If only it were that easy. There are, however, a few practices that might move us in the right direction.
First of all, pray. A selection process should be a prayerful process, which involves more than just praying at the beginning and the end of the meeting. Let prayer shape the rhythm of the meeting. Gather with leaders to pray about the process before you do any formal business.
Second, start your meetings with biblical reflection to acknowledge your need for God’s wisdom, and pause periodically during the meeting for silence or prayer. As we do these things, we learn to keep our attention on the Spirit’s presence in our midst.
You can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, keep leading and listening for the Holy Spirit.
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity