The recent brouhaha over President Obama appointing a soap opera producer as ambassador to Hungary reminds me of the way congregations choose their leaders. There is a word for when nomination committees give out church offices as rewards for financial or political gifts. It’s the sin of simony, much protested by Martin Luther. But, I wish there was a word for doing the opposite. Too often, nominating committees beg people who work 9 to 5 at finances or in the building trades, to serve on the stewardship committee or as trustees. The resulting leadership is articulate and knowledgable, but lacks passion.
I’ve always labored and prayed to build diversity into all governing committees. The membership of Trustees, Paster-Parish, Church Council, Nominations, and especially, any vision seeking group, should be chosen to represent every age and strata of the congregation. Pastors are often stumped, when after loading a lower committee with people who all think alike, every program the group develops is shot down by the more diverse council or the church at large. Diverse groups have been shown to be smarter, because they accumulate life experiences instead of narrowing their considerations to a few standard practices.
Further, the whole process of participating in church governance is supposed to be educational and useful in making disciples. Youth need to serve, and should always be a part of Trustees, Finances, and Pastor-parish, because they both teach adults to behave better and learn the practical aspects of Christianity. A church unwilling to take this risk, will soon die.