Church Council Chair: A Starting Point for Those New to the Role
“What was I thinking when I said yes to the pastor to lead the church council for the next three years?” This is the thought that is running across your mind as the charge conference vote was completed. The prayers have been extended to everyone on the leadership team. As you are looking around, shaking hands, and sharing hugs, everyone appears to be very excited. The only thought that keeps repeating in your mind is, “Now the work begins!”
Maybe your church is growing, or maybe it is at a crossroad for supporting a new worship service. What if you are the person who must lead the congregation through a merger process? Any of these scenarios calls your attention as the chair of the church council to pray and seek God’s clarity as you focus on understanding your congregation’s vision, setting a plan to move forward, communicating the roles and responsibilities of the leaders on your team, and setting priorities for the upcoming year.
This job is not impossible. Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church is your partner to help you create tools to equip leaders to effectively lead the change process in your church. Here are a few steps to start the planning cycle:
- Read about the role and function of chair of the church council
- Be proactive – schedule a meeting with the pastor to talk about your work
- Identify webinars that provide leadership development and seek out training events from your annual conference and district
- Get a program calendar for the upcoming year from United Methodist Communications and review a calendar from the previous year
- Purchase or review the Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation 2012-2016: Church Council. Here is an excerpt from page 27:
Getting Started: The church council has a significant work of planning and coordinating the ministries of the church.
Five Key Steps: Here are some simple suggestions for starting your new role as church council chair.
- Read and reflect on this Guideline (and the ones relating to the other council members).
- Meet with your pastor to pray for your church and to discuss your pastor’s vision for ministry.
- Talk to your predecessors in the position or to council chairpersons in neighboring congregations for insights into their experience.
- Examine the current ministries of your congregation, noting any questions you may have.
- Convene an orientation meeting of the church council to clarify roles and expectations and to create your covenant.
From Guidelines: Church Council 2012–2016. Copyright © 2012 by Cokesbury. Used by permission.
Remember you are not alone. Contact the members of the council to talk about needs, identify schedules, and pray about engaging in new ways to connect the congregation with your community.
Planning, praying, measuring, and living into the new mission calls for your team to be grounded in God’s word. Start with understanding the importance of listening for God’s direction to shape your vision. Make room for the Holy Spirit to direct your path as the new chairperson. Expect to grow together spiritually as a team! You are off to a great start.
For more information on starting strong, setting priorities, and planning for the year, check out these links:
- Chair of Church Leadership Team/Church Council/Administrative Board
- "Transformation”: Changing from What We Are to What God Wants
- Church Council Resources
- Local Church Officer Job Descriptions
- Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation 2013-2016 - Church Council
- Church Conflict: A Checklist for Transformation
- Job Descriptions and Leadership Training in The United Methodist Church, 2013-2016