As I began my internship with my hometown church, I was worried that being integrated into a leadership position from being a church follower would be difficult. However, as I have realized that there is a constant fluctuation between leadership and follower-ship within my church. This is due to the fact that there is a structure within the Presbyterian church called the Session, lead by appointed congregants — they are a body of followers becoming leaders for 3 years’ time. Some of the leadership work of the church is done by the Session. They are meant to be representative of the variety of voices within the church and are presented with changes in the budget, programming, or laws of the church. Within the Session, there are many committees, for financing, music, children’s education, and so on.
Additionally, there is the formal leadership, including the Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s), and Youth and Adult Pastor(s), and other staff including Directors of certain ministries. I am working this summer with the Youth Pastor and the Directors of High School and Middle School Ministries. This team has regular group meetings between the three of them, as well as individual meetings as needed. They also meet with the Youth Committee, made up of congregants on the Session. This means there are a lot of people involved with each decision made, but the structure also helps provide support for the leaders and ultimately help how church leaders help the followers of the church.
The wide variety of teams and committees is both a challenge and a strength for the formal leadership of the church. The challenge is that on occasion, in terms of decision making, it is unclear who to contact with certain concerns, like expressing a desire for more education or direction for philanthropy. Because there is the formal leadership team and However, the strength in decision making comes from the uniting mission the church has to do the right thing as they believe it. Therefore, there is usually a place to turn to with concerns or requests because everyone in leadership wants to do right by the congregants under their uniting mission of “making God’s love visible.” Overall, the amount of opportunities to be a part of leadership within the church is an asset for involvement and engagement of congregants — they can be a part of the change that they would like to see in the church.