Local churches can do more to accommodate a variety of people in leadership roles as they elect church leaders.
This is something to consider now as many Seventh-day Adventist churches globally are electing leaders during the fourth quarter of the year to serve the following year. The procedure to elect church leaders is clearly outlined in the Chapter 11 of the revised 2005 17th edition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual.
Here in Zambia, for instance, there is a trend in most churches in which the same leaders are usually re-elected year-in and year-out, thereby leaving out talented people, especially the youths in their congregations.
Youths have fresh ideas and leadership skills, which could help improve church operations, especially in the area of evangelism. Yet the young people are usually left out of the leadership.
While continuity in leadership is also important, churches should create an environment where fresh leaders could be elected as opposed to maintaining the same people who in most cases are not accommodative to new ideas.
There are a lot of church members who are not involved in any church leadership. Yet such members possess skills which could be very useful in church leadership.
For instance, the positions of church elders are usually reserved for older people, thereby leaving out youths.
According to page 50 of the revised 2006 17th edition of the Church Manual, the local elder must be one recognized by the church as a strong religious and spiritual leader. Further, the same Church Manual states that an elder should be capable of conducting services of the church.
Clearly from the two descriptions of the position of a church elder, even young people could be allowed to serve in such positions as opposed to restricting the positions to older people as the case is in most churches.
The danger of maintaining the same people in leadership is that in an event that a key church leader dies or is transferred to another church, congregations tend to lose out in particular leadership skills simply because there was no room to identify other fresh leaders with similar key skills.
More people should be given a chance to grow in leadership so that there is no leadership vacuum in churches when others leave.
--Brian Hatyoka is a member of the Livingstone Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Zambia and a journalist for the Times of Zambia.