Maybe you’ve seen the church that has 100 members and 25 committees. I’m using those numbers as an example, of course, but they’re not far enough from percentages I’ve seen in some churches. Some churches have so many committees you wonder how they accomplish anything. Here are some reasons these numbers have gotten out of control in many churches:
- Many churches have a long history, and they’ve simply added committees over the years. Nobody set out to have too many committees; it’s just happened that way over the decades (and sometimes centuries) of their existence.
- The church has established a committee structure as their go-to norm. A need arises, so the congregation sets up a committee. That’s the only response they know, and the church with committees just continues the proliferation.
- Nobody has looked at the committee structures with intentionality. When a review does happen, it happens in the context of a constitution and by-laws overhaul – which naturally does not occur often. Even then, some churches seldom consider reducing committees.
- Some leaders view committees as ways to get members involved. That may be the case in some instances, but setting up additional committees with just a few slots of service is not the best way to involve a high percentage of members.
- Some members are so accustomed to committees they’ve come to see them as part of their denominational identity. In my world, it’s “We’re Baptist, and traditional Baptists [translation: real Baptists] are led by committees.” They cannot imagine a church without committees.
- Committees can become a place of power, and those in power don’t want to see any change. If they lose their seat at the table, they lose their authority in the church. They don’t mind adding other committees, but only so long as their committee is still the primary one.
- Committees are hard to discontinue. Once they’re in place, it’s tough to move them out—especially if they’re established in the church constitution. Sometimes it’s just easier to create a new committee to work around the old committee that’s no longer effective.
- Overall, nobody’s thinking strategically about the church’s structure. I’ve done church consultations where I’ve been amazed by the number of committees in a church, but the leaders themselves have no idea how many committees they have. Typically, I learn that same church has no strategic plan for evaluation and improvement in place.
What reasons would you add to this list?