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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

03 Oct '12

Competitive ballots in church elections: Don't do it!

Posted by T.J. Addington in church elections, church leadership
I still run into congregations that use competitive ballots in church elections for leadership positions. It is a bad idea!

What it conveys to those running is that you are not sure they belong on the board but you will give them a shot. What usually happens is that well known names win and lesser names don't - irregardless of what their relative qualifications are or are not. In many cases, after losing, individuals will not allow their names to be put on the ballot again. Not that they are sore losers but they don't see the point. Often it is the church that loses out. 

In one church I worked with recently that still has competitive ballots the same leaders have rotated in and out for years simply because they are well known. So for decades, the same thirty or so people have served as leaders. They may have been good leaders but in the end that is not necessarily how they got elected. They were simply better known than others who didn't. Many who lost said they would not agree to be on the ballot in the future.

Those who are going to serve in church leadership ought to be carefully vetted and the best candidates put on a ballot for affirmation, not for a competitive vote. In other words if you need three new leaders, there are three leaders you believe in on the ballot. You know who you want, they know you want them and the congregation has the ability to vote yes or no. This is not American democracy, after all but church leadership.

Church leadership should not be about competition, winners or losers but rather the right people at the right time for the right reasons. Competitive ballots don't do that. I for one would not agree to being on a competitive ballot. I would assume that the nominating committee didn't really know who they really wanted!