Committees Vs. Experiments

Some challenges a church will face demand a comprehensive plan assembled by carefully chosen and representative teams of leaders with distinct and credible points of view who deliberate for an appreciable amount of time before making recommendations for action. Pastor Nominating Committees work like this. So do long range planning teams and task forces. As church leaders, we need to know how to support and lead these kinds of processes.

But not every challenge the church faces requires such a step-by-step approach. Some kinds of challenges are looking for targeted interventions by leaders who are acting on hunches and paying careful attention to what happens. I know a church musician who has transitioned her church’s hymnody and choral music so that roughly half of the selections are from contemporary global composers and authors; she addressed the challenge of the disconnect between the church’s predominantly white European and American musical heritage and the multicultural, multiracial community the church longs to become by picking a meaningful spot for an intervention.

She could have assembled a committee to review every musical selection over the past 12 months and conduct surveys with congregation members to learn their musical preferences. She could have hired a consultant. Those steps may well have been beneficial. But the benefit of the targeted, almost stealthy, intervention she made instead has been undeniable.

I sense that church leaders need to be growing in our capacity to lead both of these approaches, which requires that we develop our instincts for discerning which challenges require a committee and which don’t.

4 thoughts on “Committees Vs. Experiments

  1. Music is such a sensitive way to connect spiritually that it often stays with me longer than some readings — or, in the case of Isaiah 35 last Sunday, the words stick in my mind because I know their musical heritage. (Thank you for that reading.)
    One way I learned a lot of new hymns when I was in college was a project from the chapel and music department — “hymn of the week” at the short daily services, with short messages about phrases of the same hymn each day and a summary on Fridays. Some of the hymns used in that project are still among my favorites.

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