I’ve condensed people’s answers to broad categories of responses that seem similar. Each phrase people wrote in response was gathered into groups that were similar, and then I gave that group a title. I refer to “data points” below. A data point just means one phrase or statement.
The question was:
- What are three things that prevent you from volunteering (in the past year or two) for what we call a leadership position?
- Health limitations got about 12 data points, meaning 12 of the written responses indicated they did not volunteer for roles in the church so much because they were aging and limited by health, sight challenges (night driving), hearing challenges, memory challenges or caring for someone in poor health. The demographic of our congregation makes this no surprise
- Busy-ness got about 16 statements pointing to that as a barrier to volunteering. The existing busy-nesses mentioned ranged from work, to home, to in-church activity, to volunteering outside of church. Lack of energy was also listed and included in this category.
- Burned out – served too long – tired had four data points. This a category that overlaps others (Disappointment and Lack of familiarity/support) but seemed to be more about what we usually consider burn-out.
- Not feeling called or qualified had 3 data points.
- Distances was mentioned twice in these answers as a barrier to volunteering. (wide geographic spread of people, places)
- Disappointment with having led before and lack of effectiveness or efficiency of meetings. This category points to a dissatisfaction with how meetings were/are done and how many there are. There were about 5 responses that fit this category. Although it could be considered as related to the “Lack of familiarity and support” category below, I broke it out into it’s own. The statements here were along the lines of “too many meetings” “too much time commitment” “long, late night meetings” and that the time of meeting had “little to show for it.” There’s a lot implied here. It is something we need to reflect on.
- Lack of familiarity & support & encouragement. This was for me the big surprise and an area I’m concerned about. It had more than 20 data points. It is a broad category, yet there is a common underlying issue. People indicated they don’t know what’s expected of leadership roles, and people don’t feel supported in actually leading when they have those roles. In fact some of the comments indicate they felt thwarted or derailed by others. I’ll repeat a few of the comments, some will not be verbatim: “People in the church stating we do not do things that way” “There seems to be a group of people who seem to dominate in the congregation” “Lack of knowledge of the System” “Trying to lead but having others change the objective” “Not much encouragement” “Lack of recognition / appreciation” “being asked out of a sense of duty rather than need or desire.” “I feel I’ll be over-ruled by the way things “Should” be done or “has been” done” “Younger generation voice isn’t taken seriously or respected. Didn’t feel like a safe position to be in.” “too much rules & regulations against an idea instead of solutions.” You can get the idea. This one merrits further conversation at the very least by consistory. In my view it points to “management” winning over “Leading” and to a poor understanding of leadership.
- Lack of clear vision or direction had about 3 data points.
- Beyond those there were a number of individual comments that did not fit a group. Several of them were about lacking personal courage.