Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why Do Committees in the Church Often Fail to Make a Difference?

God so loved the world that He did not send a committee. 

I was asked once to lead the Melchizedek Priesthood Missionary Committee in my ward, and I accepted only after telling the leaders that they would have to accept my unorthodox view on the committees and my unorthodox approach.

In the first meeting (the last 15 minutes of the third hour meeting), I started by saying to everyone:

Why are these committees generally such a failure?

After getting the initial stunned looks and a few comments, I told them that I thought it was because we didn't spend enough time on them (because we didn't have enough time in the first place), we tried to tackle too many things (given how busy everyone was with other responsibilities), we came up with grandiose plans (or, in the case of the Missionary Committee, we simply acted as a wing of the Ward Mission and ended up doing administrative things for the Ward Mission Leader) and we didn't establish any unique things to do that were simple enough to accomplish. Therefore, my focus would be on nothing but community service, not for the sake of conversion, but simply for the sake of service. I told them the Ward Mission Leader could focus on "missionary work"; we would be focusing on sharing the Gospel - that he could build the kingdom of God and we could work to establish Zion. Service was something we could do without any angst, without a huge time commitment and without feeling like failures.

Volunteers generally want to do something fairly simple that makes them happy without creating more burdens and responsibilities in their already busy lives. Conversely, many leaders want to change the world or, at least, have a major, visible impact - and it isn't always ego-driven or a bad thing in any way. They just have a bigger vision, if you will, and more confidence in their ability to enact a bigger vision, than the other people do. They also tend to forget that worker bees still need to fly all over the place for most of their available time to gather the honey they need to survive.

My advice when it comes to a leader working within a volunteer organization is not complex:

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Take longer to do what you envision doing.

Respect volunteers as volunteers.  
Find tasks can be done and, through being done well, provide feelings and experiences of success.


Anonymous said...

Make a committee is what any large organization does when they know they have to do something but don't know what to do. It's more a way to make public our earnest intentions than a way to make real progress.

Anonymous said...

Actually I think committees were only ever about getting these guys talking to each other. Although service is probably the best result.