As a seminary trained ordained minister, and community and work psychologist, one of my occupational curiosity builds from germinal and seminal research on how resident settings connect people to their broader community (eg. Florin & Wandersman,1990; Rappaport, 1987).
Here, I explore Christianity and congregation representations, and the importance of fostering relationships outside of weekly sermons. In some church settings observed through my daily work, blinkered processes take precedence. Ideas remain within a certain group setting, and leadership group members are people who either grew up in the church or there may even appear elements of nepotism. Yes, nepotism!
Although I continue to examine organizational-level predictors, it is likewise that I centralize these writings on the body of the church, which is made up of leaders and congregation, alike. Central to the leaders of any church, are valuable talent within these congregations. To brief you on one example of the importance of recognition, and for the sake of privacy I use a pseudonym of an individual who recently spoke with me about the frustration he felt at his home church.
Robert asked for a few moments of my time to better understand my work. We set up a time to speak and had an eye-opening conversation. Robert is a seminary trained minister who was a member of a church in the East Coast. He’d had several conversations with the leaders of this church concerning his willingness to be a member of the leadership team. He holds all of the necessary credentials, but was not taken seriously. Instead the church continued on with the handful of people they know, without offering Robert a chance to display his skills. Robert has since left the congregation and is now employed at a church that he believes honored his Light. His new church is thriving and Robert is happy to be serving God’s kingdom in leadership.
Not only did his previous church loose a valuable tithing member, it lost a future leader.
Construct validity in church leadership research shows that leaders of any church can speak on inclusivity as often as is necessary, but when inclusivity does not embrace talented individuals outside of serving roles, such as those very people who sit in the pews… then there’s a probability of some form of stagnation in selective or all areas of growth. Core activities of church organizations should always look for new ideas and processes, while sticking to biblical principles. Evolutionary processes may just come from that one individual like Robert.
Be open to listening. God knows the answers, and He may just be showing you His pertinent design. Yet, if you are too stubborn to listen or see them, you may just continue to wander in the wilderness, while continuously asking questions of why growth has subsided or visitors are not returning.
There’s always potential. Revisit your organization’s basic thoughts, leadership styles, and the approaches your church currently holds. If your pews are not full, conceptualization from multiple levels may need to be explored. If current procedures are not working, find ways to fix them! Effectively growing God’s kingdom should always lead your decisions, even if this means adding to and/or subtracting from your leadership team.
Remember, we must serve God always!
Rev. M. Charlotte Oliver
Florin, P., & Wandersman, A. (1990). An introduction to citizen participation, voluntary organizations, and community development: Insights for empowerment through research. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 41-54
Rappaport, J. (1987). Terms of empowerment/exemplars of
prediction. Toward a theory of community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 15, 121-148