For God So Loved the World, God Didn’t Send a Committee

Ministry happens when committees, commissions, boards, and teams work with leaders to get things done, right?

This is how it’s been done for generations but – increasingly – committees are difficult to fill and the differences between those committees and “teams” are merely semantic.  Two conversations yesterday inspired me to notice how community organizing is replacing committee work to carry out effective ministry.

TBC met with former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom Matthew Barzun yesterday who inspired her and other graduate students about using their power for good.  (Using our collective power is essential in community organizing.) She left energized to study, work, and encourage others to make a difference too.  She has become an evangelist for life-changing ideas and developing relational power.

The Stated Clerk of my denomination has said that his hope is to shift us from committee-izing our ministry to organizing our ministry.  Nobody joins a congregation or other non-profit in order to attend committee meetings.  But we are inspired when invited to join a movement that makes organic changes that enhance human life.

There will always be a need for meetings to organize ourselves for action.  But the actions we seek are those that offer deep nourishment and substantive changes in the way we live.  What if we saw the mission of our work through that lens?

Instead of holding meetings of committees with a “have to do” agenda, what if we organized ourselves as being part of a movement?

11 responses to “For God So Loved the World, God Didn’t Send a Committee

  1. I am deeply inspired by this and in my own ministry I seek to do more community organizing.

    I think right now my problem is that I don’t have/don’t take the time to properly trained into being a community organizer. (I always think I need the right education before I can do the thing, whatever that thing is.)

    Our congregation is about to begin conversations around restructuring of our committee system. I’m wondering if we could be influenced by Community Organizing. Are there individuals/organizations that might help us with this work?


  2. I agree but …what does that look like and how is it different, say for a session?


    • The session sees itself as part of a movement rather than part of an institution. If the movement is – for example- to show the neighborhood what the love of Jesus looks like – then this becomes the lens through which everything happens from how ushers welcome people to how $ is spent. It’s like living the mission statement but bigger.


  3. I have seen what happens to a church that swings so far the other way, to get rid of all committees, boards, etc, that NO work gets done. The committee/board meeting should not be the work but only the chance to come together to report the work being done and to see where there are gaps and holes that the committee needs to fill. I always say that the work isn’t done around the boardroom table, but rather around the dining table, the hospital room, the cafeteria table (where I actually spend two days a week), the kitchen, and on and on.


  4. The Seasonal Structure is a good move away from committees, freeing session and deacons to better live into their calls and members of the congregation to participate in the life of the church more fully. Perhaps session looking at community organizing is a good next step.


  5. What if we approached committees in the spirit of the literal root meaning of the word: “those sent together”?


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