We have a little rule at the church council: on most issues we don’t discuss and decide at the same meeting.
It’s a high value for me, because I’ve learnt the hard way the price I pay for steamrolling something through. Years ago, but still fresh in my mind, I thought we were all sorted for adding an apprentice at church, and so I’d interviewed, and offered the post.
Major, major mistake. Key leaders were unhappy, the council was unhappy – and all because I’d moved too fast, They all supported in theory but I hadn’t won them in reality. I had to undo the appointment, and realised I’d done serious damage to my leadership capital.
So now, different church and different leaders, but lesson learnt. We’ll have an issue introduced, maybe with a briefing paper or just an oral report, and then we give the idea time to breathe.
These aren’t minor operational issues, of course. Those are decided elsewhere. But these are the larger, direction setting, goal reaching, budget stretching questions. Rarely are they screamingly urgent, but boy are they important.
I want us to take time, to get as many people on board as possible, to have problems genuinely aired, and to allow unease to die. Which is hard for me, because as a pastor, I want things to happen, fast, and on my timetable.
But the people who are ultimately accountable for the direction, the property, the budget, the staffing – these people are acting as trustees It’s their role to ask the awkward questions and voice the niggling concerns. They most hold us tight to our gospel directives, and not be so dazzled by rhetoric they they allow (or refuse) what they should forbid (or insist on). They’re not being my personal enemies when they do that.
And when they feel they’re being bounced, rushed, or misdirected, they should feel it’s their role to speak up. And that I honour them for doing that.
So give them time, give them information, give them the biblical rationale, and give them the opportunity to process it all.