What kind of help is most helpful and how might a middle governing body best provide it? Research and conversations among members who lived through both hidden challenges and public conflict came to some conclusions about what would have been most helpful in those situations. Repeatedly, when their challenges, and their efforts to address them, were reflected on, people said three things would have been most helpful. They wished leadership had given members more responsibility. They wanted help from the middle governing body to not come in the form of enforcement. And they needed support to not feel punitive.
Churches like the idea of putting responsibility into the hands of members and not session or pastors. It seemed to some people that pastors and other church leaders were already too busy and that a process that could be left in the hands of members might be well received. Members also said that help should not come from the enforcement arm of the Middle governing body. Some had experience with positive involvement from those officials; but since it came from a particular “problem solving” committee that often “dealt” with church difficulties, it was perceived by others as enforcement and not to be trusted. Finally, members felt help should be provided in a way that would make participation normative and not punitive. Members expressed that if people from many churches in the region were regularly participating in a process voluntarily, then a church with difficulties could take part without fear that such participation would be seen as punishment. Overall, when presented with the processes in this book, those interviewed were hopeful that helpful assistance could be provided in this new three-pronged approach.
Help should be available for:
Middle governing bodies
Help should be: