Guest Post: Dear Eliza, how to handle decision-making at church?
I often find that the decision makers in my ward are not the same people who actually prepare the food, wash the dishes, manage the children, organize the meeting space, or work weekly with budgeted supplies. This means that decisions tend to be “top-heavy” and based on limited information. Male leaders make decisions with input from women, but ultimately must approve every purchase and plan. While I believe leaders are well-meaning, this decision-making approach leads to less efficient and effective outcomes. When I bring this up, I’m told to try to “avoid being offended” and to “trust my leaders.” What is the point of having me spend time prayerfully planning activities, budgets, etc. if men at the top will ultimately veto, change, or minimize my choices? I may have the title of president, but I clearly only make suggestions. Am I alone in this?
Frustrated in Ferndale
We often hear that “inspiration comes with information,” but in the church it can feel like this is only the case when information comes from men. In theory, the system delegates authority, but in reality, decisions are ultimately approved by a man in leadership. You are not alone in feeling as though your experience, expertise, and prayerful planning is underappreciated. Unfortunately, if you aren’t on the clean-up committee, rallying kids in the nursery, or finding unique ways to engage youth each week (or you haven’t done these things in a while), you can easily become disconnected from the realities of participating in a volunteer organization.
With this in mind, I think church leaders should have to ask the following before making a decision/change/policy/budget:
1. Would a male with decision-making power/authority REGULARLY volunteer to do this task with the current tools and budget?
2. Has he recently?
3. Will he in the near future?
If they answer “no” to any of these questions, they should rethink their decision-making strategies to include and prioritize information and inspiration from those who can readily answer “yes.”
Readers with concerns or questions of their own may address Dear Eliza in the comments, and wait for a reply in future publications.