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November 23, 2011Leadership

Some Reflections on Electing a New Denominational Leader

Choosing a new leader for a denomination is always a fascinating thing-- and each denomination seems to do it differently. Yet most of them (at some point) vote in some form of election.

One of the more fascinating leadership elections has been that of the Bishop of Central Florida in the Episcopal Church. The difficulties of the Episcopal Church are well known and I have written on them on more than one occasion. Yet, many people do not know that most of the influence in the Episcopal Church is found at the "Bishop level"-- and a diocese elects its own Bishop (pending approval from their House of Bishops). Now, to Episcopalians, I get that this is more than "electing a denominational leader" (due to their view of the role of Bishops), but I think there are similarities to consider and some lessons to learn.

When I consulted with the Foursquare Church as they walked through their presidential search, we developed a profile with the national cabinet and then they elected a president in their annual meeting. I blogged on how each candidate laid our their vision for the future. I think it was a helpful process that other denominations should consider-- laying out where the leaders believe the movement should go. Too many denominations elect their leader on the basis of popularity or a good nomination speech. A better way is to hear the theology, vision, and values of the prospective leader.

What I found interesting about the Diocese of Central Florida was the interactive nature of their search (full disclosure, an old friend won the election and Greg Brewer is now Bishop-elect). Take a look here at how the candidates answered questions and then interacted in the Q&A.

First, you "meet the candidates": http://bishopsearch.cfdiocese.org/candidates. In this section, they are asked to address some of the big issues facing the Episcopal Church.

Then, the candidates dialogued over 50 topics with over 400 posts with questions on marriage, "open" communion, how to relate to the Episcopal Church, etc: http://bishopsearch.cfdiocese.org/forum

Long story short, knowing MORE about your future denominational leader (not less) is a good thing. Forums like this can be a help in the electoral process. In this election, the forthright answers in the dialogue were known and considered in the election.

Other denomintions need to ask how they can know their potential leaders before they are elected.

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Some Reflections on Electing a New Denominational Leader