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Having gone through several potentially controversial situations in the past year, including a financial pinch due to a building project and a personel change, I have found 2 things to be crucial - transparency & prayer. Often in council we feel the weight of responsibility - but we don't need to go it alone. We used what we called "Congregation Conversations" to bring the situation to the people and actively solicited their input and their prayers. While the council must make the decision - that does not mean it must make the decision in isolation from the congregation. The more informed the people are to the scenario, options, pitfalls and consequences of a situation the more understanding they are. By actively informing them and seeking their input the better informed they are to pray for you and the church. Whenever I look back over the past year I am amazed at the miracle that God pulled off right here in our church.

Here's the Chairman Job Description we use:

Chairman’s Job description

 The chairman’s primary job is to advance the Kingdom of God through the promotion and  advancement of the Vision and Mission of 2nd Church.

The council shall elect a chairman to organize and run council and the elders’ meetings, and to communicate these groups’ decisions to the church at members' meetings.


 The chairman must keep in mind the following principles:

Prayer it the most important part of every meeting

The Spirit will lead – be attentive and patient

Grace and Truth must be kept in balance

God has blessed the members with a diversity of gifts

Appropriate transparency and confidentiality are essential


            As the leader he must model and promote a culture of:





                        Use of gifts and callings



                        Open, frank and fair discussion


            As a servant he should:

                        Be aware of physical dynamics – seating arrangement, space and time

                        Build ‘community’ in the group – have a sharing time in the meeting

                        Be aware of non-verbal communication and mood

                        Be an active listener

                        Affirm and encourage each member – assign appropriate jobs

                        Find a way to include a “Worship Time”

                        Celebrate – acknowledge the work of the Spirit


The chairman should be a gifted administrator and strong leader able to run an orderly and timely meeting. He does not "steamroll" the members to achieve the agenda, but neither does he allow individual members to hijack the meeting and lead it down rabbit trails. The chairman should be sensitive to the fatigue level of the members and not drag the meetings beyond what is productive.


In the days leading up to the elders' and council meetings, the chairman should facilitate the process of drawing up the agenda. He should do this with the pastor, clerk and deacon chairman by group e-mails or a planning meeting. The content of meetings should comprise these four main headings: shepherding, prayer, discernment, and ministry management.


“A great leader is seen as a servant first – a group will freely respond only to an individual who is chosen as leader because they are proven and trusted as a servant.” (Servant Leadership, John Greenleaf)


   I agree wholeheartedly! and I agree that training is the answer - the question is what training? How do we do the best we can in leading the church  - what does that look like in the face of a budget shortage, a lack of vision, a power struggle? What is the administrative role of the council?

  It seems our churches are floundering due to some systemic problem with our leadership structure.

There is some training and materials available for the elder shepherding role but I haven't found anything on administration and leadership.

Locally we have a monthly meeting of the area CRC council chairmen. It is apparent to all of us that there is much room for improving how we lead - but if there is no training or materials the only option seems to be 'take what we know and do our best' (which is the scenario you described in the article). Getting together and sharing experiences and 'best practices' is helpful but is still kind of the blind leading the blind. Often the result is abdicating our leadership role to the pastor which not only is a further time burden to him but often makes him the target when decisions are controversial

Any suggestions on leadership training for council members and chairmen and even future leaders would be very helpful.

Thanks for the bringing up the subject.

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