Thoughts on Committees - Radiant

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Thoughts on Committees

Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg

I was in our local Christian bookstore on Saturday and I’m guessing that the gentleman in front of me in line at the checkout was a Pastor. I say that because as he was purchasing a Bible, there was some conversation back-and-forth between this gentleman and the lady who was serving him and from that chatter, I picked up that he represented a church that was going to be trying out a new version of the Bible for their use. As the man finished paying for the Bible, the woman explained the information he needed in order to return it if the committee that was reviewing it decided against that version. That comment gave way to an exchange between them about how challenging a decision by committee usually is.

As I thought about that exchange, it struck me that most anyone in a church context could relate to the fact that by the very nature of what they are, committees are difficult to drive towards an agreement. It takes real processes and safeguards in place in order to come to a successful conclusion – and yet, so often in our work with churches and ministries, we see so many of those safeguards not in place.

The biggest pitfall we see many ministries falling into is allowing too many people to have input. This is a challenge for two reasons:

  1. The more people you have involved, the more risk there is that you are leaning on opinions of people that haven’t been involved in the process all along. Without the confines of the project goals and the context of the project process to date, those people are commenting simply on the basis of you asking them to provide feedback. Keep in mind too, that when you ask someone to provide feedback, they will always find a way to give you something critical, constructive or otherwise.
  2. An inability to distill the feedback down from a mass of varied responses to a single, pointed set of directives for the project. Someone has got to be the person that can corral the feedback of the group (and in some cases, the group itself) and process all their feedback into something actionable.

Include the right people and give them the tools to understand the project. Then, encourage/exhort them to work together and to accept that getting “their way” may not be what happens in favor of hitting the project goals. Then move on the project while at all times seeking out the common denominators in the feedback you receive. You’ll set yourself up for not only a successful conclusion, but a successful process in getting there.