Guest Post: Dear Eliza, how to handle decision-making at church?

Dear Eliza,

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?

Sincerely,

Frustrated in Ferndale


 

Dear Frustrated,

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.”

Best,

Eliza

 

Readers with concerns or questions of their own may address Dear Eliza in the comments, and wait for a reply in future publications. 

 

By Mindy May Farmer

Mindy is a quirky book lover, writer, teacher, feminist, vintage-hat wearer, mom of four, 40-something, who loves a great conversation; written or otherwise.
 
 

 

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2 Responses

  1. Eleanor says:

    Dear Frustrated,

    I feel your pain.

    Dear Eliza,

    I admire your thoughtful response. As a fellow 40-something, I’ve personally grown weary of trying to tiptoe around the fact (I consider it a fact) that patriarchy is fundamentally flawed, morally and ethically wrong, creates sub-optimal outcomes, and is ultimately doomed. Therefore, it’s hard for me to give thoughtful responses like yours. That being said, your more measured approach may eventually end up winning the day. Keep up the good work!

  2. Good Reason says:

    Absolutely brilliant–sharing this with the women and men I know in the church!

    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.”

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