Elder/Deacon Nominees?


What are effective ways to get people to stand for church leadership positions? More and more the comment is, "I know you have a hard time getting elders and deacons, but I can't/won't do that."  Or, "I don't feel qualified to do that--why does the Council keep nominating me."  Especially frustrating in regard to the latter is that even when we suggest that none of us truly have those gifts, but for the Holy Spirit's work, the answer is still "no." The problem is that in a small congregation, that means the same few people continue to step up to serve.

I'd love to hear how other congregations approach this.

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We struggle in this area too.  It's hard to get "no"s.  One thing that might help, indeed is helping, is improving the meetings so that word gets out that they are much better than they perhaps used to be.  If meetings are reputed to be enjoyable and get out on time, that has to help things out.  Classis Georgetown, of which we are a part, has greatly imporved their meeting format and my elders really like the Classis meetings whereas before they dreaded them.  Of course, this is a longer-term solution and won't help for this year or even next, but it's one positive change. 



How do you ask people? Previously, our council just sent out letters and most people said 'no'. Several years ago we switched to a method where we ask fewer people, but we ask in person.

Active elders/deacons set up conversations with the nominees to personally deliver the letter, discuss the call, answer questions, talk about their giftedness, discuss any reservations they have, and to pray for God's leading as they consider the call. It takes time, but we've found them to be meaningful conversations and a more effective method than what we were doing before.

Tim, I agree with you that the personal connection works the best, and yes, that takes time. In an article I recently read it mentions that recruiting people for ministry should be like that of a dating relationship - taking time to know the person, their gifts and passions - spend time with them, affirm them in their area of giftedness and answer any questions they may have. Let them know there will also be training and support for them in their role (which is another key ingredient so people feel empowered).


Two comments Paul:  First, to your comment that the same few people might end up serving... remember that the same single pastor ends up serving, if this is not bad by itself, then why is it bad for other officebearers?   Second, scripture encourages us to eagerly desire the greater gifts of service... it is an honor to serve in this way.   If it is merely a duty or task that "must" be done or that we beg people to do, then we are giving the wrong impression of this God honoring task.  (this also applies to other roles and tasks, each of which are important, but office bearers, ie., elders and deacons, are significantly singled out).  Third, training ought to occur before they are asked.   This training ought to be part of our training as christians.  The task of elder is not to be a placeholder, or a name on a sheet, or to merely attend meetings.  The qualities of pastoral  leadership, teachership, and spiritual nearness to Jesus, will grow in these official roles, but ought to be there already well before.  In order for someone to be nominated for such an office/role, they probably should fulfill a prerequisite of teaching a bible study class, catechism class, sunday school, cadets, young people, etc.  How else will you know if they have the gift of teaching which scripture suggests?  These are just some thoughts for consideration, as I do fully understand the dilemna.