One of my favorite things to do in my Sunday School class is to have polls or pop quizzes. It is a joy to watch the community wisdom at work. Here is a pop quiz for you! How many Elders do we have at First Christian? Another question; how is the number of Elders determined? Final question; after a person is nominated for the position of Elder, what happens? I’ll wait...Ok.
Answer number one to the question, how many Elders do we have at First Christian fifteen. The second question was how is the number of Elders determined, and the answer is; that number is set out as a mandatory number in our by-laws (at least twelve). The answer to the third question about what happens after someone is nominated as Elder is this; the nominee is reviewed by a nominating committee against the requirements for the position and if they believe he or she is qualified, they are contacted to see if they would be willing to serve. And, if they say yes, their name is placed on the ballot the congregation votes on at the end of the year.
Here’s the thing though, it gets harder and harder to find twelve people who want to serve as an Elder. We really need to consider if having a set number of Elders is appropriate in light of the new church attendance model that seems to be developing. Twenty years ago, regular church attendance was considered about three times a month, but now it is considered about one in five weeks. That means most folk who are nominated as an Elder, end up telling us no.
Should we lower the standards for being an Elder or should we think about changing the By-Laws. It might mean we have fewer Elders but at least it would be people who feel called to the position, not someone who did it out of a feeling of obligation. Being an Elder is quite a serious thing and not to be taken lightly. It is also quite a privilege, but a person should not do it if they don’t want to, and in my opinion, the church shouldn’t be put in a place where we have to ask people to do it knowing they don’t want to, but we need to fill the slate to meet the By-Laws.
In my opinion, we should change the By-Laws to reflect the current state of the Church, what’s yours?