By George Bullard, Ministry Colleague with The Columbia Partnership
Does it seem that many congregations are late adapters to some trends? It does to me. It appears congregations are just getting around to adapting to certain trends as the next trend is emerging. For example, organizing congregations according to teams rather than committees continues in its ascendancy, just as in the world at-large teams are fading in favor of communities.
It is a positive step that congregations are abandoning committees for teams. But what if congregations were to skip the team phase and embrace communities? Too radical? Perhaps so! Too cutting edge? Hardly!
Leadership communities and learning communities are the next wave of congregational leadership, governance, and missional engagement. Are you ready to empower the transition? Consider these seven differences between committees, teams, and communities as you think about making the transition:
Difference One—Formation: Committees tend to be elected or appointed in keeping with the bylaws, policies, or polity of congregations. Teams are recruited or drafted to work on a specific task or set of tasks. Communities are voluntarily connected in search of genuine and meaningful experiences.
Difference Two—Focus: Committees focus on making decisions or setting policies. Teams focus on maturing to the point that they become high task performance groups. Communities add qualitative relationships, meaning, and experiences to the organizations, organisms, or movements to which they are connected.
Difference Three—Membership: Committees tend to have a fixed term of membership. Teams may have a defined term of membership, or may serve until a certain set of tasks is completed. Communities have no bounded membership and people tend to come and go based on their continuing interest in the journey.
Difference Four—Outside Assistance: Committees seek high quality training events or consultants if they need outside assistance. Teams partner with respected practitioners or coaches. Communities align with champions or advocates who come alongside them in long-term relationships.
Difference Five--Recruitment: Committees look for people of position who can bring to the committee or council influence to get the work of the committee respected by people of power in the congregation. Teams look for people of expertise who have the gifts, skills and preferences to complete a certain task or set of tasks. Communities look for people of passion who want to have fun helping to bring exciting experiences to congregational participants, and a spiritual strategic journey to the congregation.
Difference Six—Benefits: Committees benefit congregations by building ownership and loyalty for the mission of the congregation. Teams benefit congregations by providing more effective action more quickly than committees. Communities benefit congregations by providing more enthusiasm and meaningful relationships within congregations.
Difference Seven—Style of Work: Committees focus on making decisions that are lasting and manage the resources of the congregation efficiently at the best price. Teams focus on debating the strengths and weaknesses of the various choices to complete a task, and typically end up with the highest quality product or outcome. Communities dialogue, engage in discernment activities, and arrive at the best solutions for a particular opportunity or challenge.
Is your congregation ready to embrace communities?