4 Tips for Healthy Church Politics
From Leading Ideas,
from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership
at Wesley Theological Seminary.
June 22, 2016 by David Brubaker
Read the entire article
1. Clear and consistent decision-making policies and practice
Destructive political activity often results when individuals and groups in a congregation do not understand — or do not trust — existing decision-making mechanisms. Fuzziness in decision-making is a chronic cause of negative politics in congregations.
2. Clear lines of authority and accountability
Position descriptions for professional staff are as essential for healthy congregational functioning as they are in any other organization. Periodic role clarification is needed as individual positions turn over or are revised. Every position description should also clarify to whom that position is accountable, and provide for annual review and accountability, in order to ensure meaningful accountability.
3. Clear channels for communication and participation
Nearly every congregation I’ve attended or worked with gave significant attention to how it was communicating “to” the congregation. The combination of verbal announcements when the congregation gathers, a printed bulletin, a website, and email blasts are today all standard. But less attention is given in most congregations to how the leadership hears back “from” the congregation. Two-way communication is essential in contemporary congregations, as members experienced with social media and open discussions in university classrooms generally won’t abide one-way communication for long.
4. Dignity and Respect as Cultural Norms
By far the most important requirement for healthy politics is that congregations hold and practice strong cultural norms of dignity and respect. Author Donna Hicks defines these terms this way: “Dignity is our inherent value and worth as human beings; everyone is born with it. Respect, on the other hand, is earned through one’s actions.” To be treated with dignity, therefore, is the inherent right of every human being — even if we are unable to accord respect to the behavior of a given individual.
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org.