Alive? Welcome to Council!
Guest Blog by Melissa Van Dyk
Check your pulse. Do you have one? If so, you may be the perfect candidate for council!
It seems like there is a leadership crisis in many of our churches, specifically relating to our council roles of deacon and elder. Many congregations are struggling to find individuals who are able or willing to step into these roles. What’s going on? Why is this happening?
There are a number of reasons why this issue is surfacing and one of them is the fact that the number of professing members is declining. This means the number of people eligible to be deacons and elders is also decreasing. Part of this decline has also been attributed to young adults leaving the CRC prior to profession of faith and during the time they would most likely begin stepping into these leadership roles. The absence of these individuals has affected our council options as the pool of people we could draw from is not always being replenished with vibrant, fresh and willing to serve folks.
The shrinking pool of people leads into a second reason: burnout. Many members have been faithfully serving in the church for a LONG time. This potential for burnout isn’t always caused by “overworking.” Sometimes there’s an emotional weariness or spiritual fatigue from serving where you aren’t gifted, or serving without receiving support, wisdom, guidance or mentoring. Long-serving members may not have energy for one more thing on their plates.
While members wait for replacements to step-up and help with ministry, young people often find themselves engaged in studies or working to pay off giant student loans and too busy to take on a role serving the church. Families have children who are involved in a multitude of activities and working parents are involved in making sure their kids get where they need to go. A false idea of busyness as a virtue has pervaded our Western culture and is prevalent in our congregations, too. Busyness then becomes an excuse for not being involved in ministry within the church.
As a congregation, it can be difficult to navigate through this issue without feeling disheartened. What is your church doing to engage members in filling leadership roles? What can we as individuals do?