How does your council and congregation go about selecting eligible candidates to serve as deacons and elders?
April 10, 2011
Updated December 20, 2011
10 comments 1396 views
Perhaps the powers that be could also link/add this to the elders forum.
I am studying and would like to write about the process church councils engage in every spring or fall as they nominate potential elders or deacons (depending on when you rotate officebearers).
Part of the writing I will do will be a discussion about the positives and negatives surrounding the election process of elders or deacons. Some churches use the more or less "traditional" election process where the congregation votes on a slate provided by the Council. Others use the lot process, provided that they follow the guidelines of Church Order that the congregation has "meaningful input" in selecting eligible candidates.
What I would like to hear from you is, "How does your council and congregation go about selecting eligible candidates?" At the church I serve, the congregation is asked to submit the names of those whom they feel are qualified to serve. From there, the process gets messy. An uneven set of criteria are used to cull the list down. Some things are fairly objective, for instance, no immediate family members should serve together on council. Other things are subjective. For instance, I recently heard from one council member, "I have a problem serving with this person because he doesn't pay his bills." Prior to this comment, no one had a reason to keep this person off "the list."
Our process is high on subjective opinion and low on objective accountability. Are there any of you who believe that you do the nomination process well?
I'd love to hear from you.
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Your concern is well founded. It depends on how the church qualifies leadership. Do they veiw leadership in a secular context? We typically look for people that appear successful and friendly. But spiritual leaders does not always come in a nice wrapper.
I believe there should be a interview process where candidates respond to questions from church leadership and the lay body. The questions and answers take away some guess work and bias.
I also think candidates or volunteers should be allowed. Some individuals will never be considered due to appearances or their history.
The Church Finance and Administration Resources on crcna.org has some samples of nomination letters and materials that you may want to review including timelines, letters, and review of responsibilities. Look under the section "Church Organization and Administration" and then "Administration."
We use a system where we encourage the church body to submit names of those who they see as gifted and passionate about serving. One may submit his or her own name if they are led and feel like they have the gifts necessary to serve as Pastoral Shepherd (elder) or Service Shepherd (deacon). They fill out a short questionnaire where they list reasons, experiences, gifts, etc. as to why they believe someone should be serve in a particular role. Council then reviews those names and has the freedom to remove names if necessary (spouse already serving, too many other responsibilities, etc.) and then those individuals are contacted and asked if they will consider having his or her name on the ballot. Then we have the affirmation process where the congregation votes to affirm all names on the ballot whom they feel could serve the office well (not just as many names as there are positions to fill). Our by-laws dictate a 75% approval for anything to pass. All those who recieve the necessary 75% are included in the casting of lots to see which individuals will serve as shepherds. Individuals involved are not informed if they were affirmed or not and do not know if their name is in the bag for the casting of lots. To the best of my knowledge no one asked to know either. We do believe that this process best puts people in office who first of all have the gifts necessary to serve these roles, who are affirmed by the church body and then chosen by God through the casting of lots. This process may not work for everyone but we have been blessed by this process at Bridge of Hope.
When the council evaluates the candidates before the casting of lots, do they make the determination with the candidate present? Does he/she have any input?
Very helpful information. Thank you for the link.
The candidate is not present when the council reviews the names. After the council "approves" the name, which they almost always do unless there is an obvious reason why this person should not serve, the individual is contacted by a member of council letting them know that they have been nominated to serve, and then asked if they will allow their name to stand for the affirmation vote from the church body.
To simplify it:
1. People are nominated.
2. Council reviews and approves names.
3. Person is contacted asking if they will allow their name to stand.
4. Persons are affirmed by a vote of the general body.
5. All those affirmed are included in the casting of lots.
Mark when your "Council reviews and approves names." without the person present, doesn't that mean the council decides who is going to be a candidate?
I don't believe so. The individuals have been recommended by the church body. The council goes into the "review the names portion" of the process with full intentions of approving all the names submitted unless there is an obvious reason why they should not (for example: a name is submitted and the person submitting the name did not realize that this person was not a member of the church yet). The council simply acts as a "safety net". The individual is then asked if he or she is willing to have their name on the ballot. The council strongly relies on the nomination form from the church body.
I appreciate the conversation so far.
As some of you work on filling the slate for potential elders and deacons, how many of you limit the slate to twice the number of people you need to replace (the minimum), or do you allow as many who pass the screening process and are willing to stand as elder or deacon go into the "hat?"
We do not limit the number. Thinking back there have been times when we had 3 names and needed 2 and times when we have had double what was needed. But God has always provided enough!
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