We look for different types of lay people for each of our leadership committees. For elders, we look for discerners, not doers. For the stewardship team, we look for doers and people with a specific financial skill set–people who are used to working with large amounts of money and big budgets. For the building committee, we target people who have construction-related experience. Our MTRs are servant leaders of the church. And the personnel committee is made up of two elders, two members of the stewardship team, the senior pastor, and the administrator. These are seasoned people who understand our compensation system.
When a church is in the start-up phase, it might be best to assemble the best and brightest from the volunteer team to serve on a steering committee. A start-up is constantly evaluating and making decisions. Having the right people at the decision-making table is extremely important. As the church grows, it will be necessary to migrate to a more formalized organizational structure. The staff will likely assume the role of day-to-day decision-makers. Establishing a board of elders that represents the members of the church and to whom the senior pastor is accountable becomes increasingly important. Deciding when to make this transition is an extremely important decision and needs to be made at the right time. Moving to an elder-based form of government too late will open your church up to the dangers induced by a lack of accountability. Doing so too soon will create the possibility of your vision being hijacked by those who are well-intentioned, but do not understand the DNA of the organization. Thinking through this critical step and executing it properly will ensure the health of your church and establish its DNA for generations to come.