By Aaron Summers
Nominating Committees everywhere are starting to work hard to fill church positions. I have worked on both the local and state level in trying to uncover and discover and recover people to serve on various boards, agencies, teams, committees, and teaching slots. I have seen the good and bad side of filling positions. Often, we cherry pick the best people for certain positions and scramble to just fill the page.
Somewhere in the deep recesses, we know there should be more people involved, but who has the time? In most cases in the church, there are two positions for every committee, plus trustees, clerks, moderators and more. Whatever your policies are, here are a few reminders as you go about the work of ministry:
Is Joe a believer? You might think this is a no-brainer, but it isn’t. I have seen good and God-fearing people bring to the table names of those who have yet to decide for Christ, but have the vocational skill in the area of need. Until a person has placed faith in Jesus and received the forgiveness of sin, they are not prepared to make spiritual decisions in the church. I realize that which paper towel holders are needed in the bathroom or what color the toilets need to be seem to be irrelevant to this moment, but I tell you it is. There will come a time that even though they can add and read a P&L sheet, spiritual direction will be necessary. In those moments, we need faith, not just facts.
No matter where your church stands on membership, fellowship or covenants, the person being suggested to serve needs to be settled in their attendance in your church. Your church needs to decide what the requirements are going to be. For example, how can someone really advise and guide personnel who attends 25% of the time? How can someone really give input to practices and policies if they are not around often enough to speak well into these matters? How can they lead a group when they are at other churches because of family, invites, events and such?
This has to do with their mouth and their money. You want people in leadership to be vocally supportive of the staff as well as the church mission and vision. Naysayers create problems. Gossips create integrity issues. Those who refuse to follow Matthew 18 will create hazards and splits. Those in leadership have a higher accountability and must be held to it.
Only the treasurer/bookkeeper will know how much someone gives. In our situation we have set a low limit of $200 month in giving. If someone is giving more than that they are considered available to serve. IF someone is not meeting that need, but I am aware of low-income status in their home, I will seek to discover if their giving is regular.
We all need to row in the same direction. Otherwise, we go in circles.
Background checks are difficult for our older generations to grasp. Having grown up in radically different social times, it is often a church hurdle. However, we MUST be doing these. The obvious areas are in youth and childhood ministries. I would encourage committee members undergo this process as well. Another option would be that committee members sign an agreement of confidentiality. While much of what is done in committee-life is open for membership to hear, there are times when sensitive items need to be discussed. Our church family is not always prepared to hear all that is discussed.
For example, My wife and I discuss a lot at the dinner table with our kids. However, when we moved to Texas three years ago, they were not at an age to handle that information until they had to handle it. They didn’t know about the interviews and discussions of housing and schools. Our church members are at all levels of maturity. We must have the mature lead and, at times, do so confidentially.
God has equipped your church with people. Within them lies the Spirit of God. Do you see the fruit of the Spirit revealed in their actions and speech? Do you sense they are being led by the Spirit or by other causes? Sometimes, everything can seem right and the pressure is on us to finish the task. However, we must pause and ensure the Spirit’s guidance and gifting. Someone who is gifted with mercy, help, and faith will have a difficult time serving in an administrative role. Also, if the finance/stewardship committee is filled with those who are strong in faith, run the risk of presenting a budget too large for the congregation. There needs to be balance.
I pray for our nominating committees as they seek to serve the Lord and His church. May you be wise, righteous and godly in your choices this fall.
Aaron W. Summers serves as Lead Pastor at Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, TX.