Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Restorative Church Government?

Found a great discussion on church governance this morning over at the New Ways Forward blog, and it got me thinking (uh oh).

I might end up rehashing some of what I posted there in the comments section, but wanted to throw it out to anyone who may see this on the blog or on F'book. The conversation there was about governance models (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational) but seemed to start morphing into a commentary on the decision-making process in a congregation. These two aren't necessarily the same thing, but neither are they so cleanly delineated.

This also came up for me in my "Formation in Ministry" class at EMS this fall, while watching case study videos on how church leaders can keep themselves from getting sucked into the emotional vortex that can sometimes (often?) be congregational change and/or decision-making. The focus of these videos was on the leader themselves, using a systems theory approach, but I kept asking myself "Yes, but what could have been done to keep the congregation from forming into sub-groups around special interests?"

A few options come to mind:
It seems to me that these kinds of approaches, which aren't common at all in congregations, would go a long way to eliciting broader participation without jeopardizing or changing the existing church structures. You don't have to get rid of elders or leaders or even committees. There is still a need for clearly defined leadership in organizations. But there is also a need for the wider body to have a voice (and they must feel it, too). And these methods can help with that, mitigating the chaos that can happen if you just let everyone speak at once with no clear process in place to facilitate order.

Another potential resource:
Promise and Peril: Understanding and Managing Change and Conflict in Congregations by David R. Brubaker (one of my professors at EMU's Center for Justice & Peacebuilding)

No comments:

Post a Comment