Church Leadership - From Committee Process to Leadership Positions

The Church often tells herself that she is counter-cultural. The reality is the Church is a cultural product and in influenced by the culture in many of the same ways other spheres are. For instance, the rise of the "big box" stores in culture, where one could get all they wanted in "one stop",  was also seen in the rise of the "mega church", where one can get all you want in "one stop." Or the rise of "Christian hip hop" comes after the hip hop movement is underway. There are moments when the Church is counter-cultural but the Church is more often a laggard to the cultural influences. 

Photo by  Samuel Zeller  on  Unsplash

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Since the early days of America, the United States government has relied upon a strong committee system to generate, build and adopt policy. Since the 1970's the government has made dramatic strides to move from a committee system and embrace more a party system. This is a long and nuanced history, but the essence is this: the power in the committee systems lie with the committee chairs whereas in a party system power lies with party leaders. Those in key leadership positions have not liked that there are committee chair persons who have great autonomy to "cut deals" and modify the agenda. Additionally, there was push for greater transparency in these committees and so the committee system has slowly been marginalized. 

The erosion of the committee system has contributed to a more polarized congress than ever before and it is now the small number of party leaders who wield the most power.

All of this relates to the Church because we are seeing now this play out in the life of the Church. While there is an ever growing push in culture to streamline decisions and consolidate power around positions, this is also making its way into the Church. 

Where was once a joke that Churches would have a meeting to decide if they were going to have a meeting, now Churches are making decisions to cut committees and move to "executive teams" or "governing boards". These teams/boards are very efficient and able to make decisions quicker than committees. This system also has a number of benefits that are favored in these times where so much of the church revolves around the pastor who is given even more power to "lead" the church. I am not knocking church leadership that moves away from the committee model; to each her own. What I want to offer up is the reminder that the Church is called to be a counter cultural voice, the place that values the still small voice and worships the God of all time not the god of efficiency.