Questions to Ask Oneself Before Serving on a Parish Council
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (I Peter 4:10)
Accepting nomination to serve on the parish council should not be a casual decision. As a nominee, you must determine whether you can meet the requirements of service set by the parish. The parish nominating committee must be sure that your skills and expertise will advance and fulfill its mission.
The checklist below can help you evaluate whether parish service in this regard makes sense for you. The parish nominating committee in turn must ascertain through the same questions if your readiness to serve is consistent with the responsibilities of the office.
Do you have a spiritual and emotional connection to the mission of the parish? Do you know what it is? Are you prepared to accept that the mission of the parish is also your personal mission in terms of service? Do you believe the mission of the parish makes a difference to the community and to the world?
Do you have a solid grasp of the time required each month to be an engaged parish council member? Do you really have enough time to commit to this, or are you too busy right now?
3. Personal Giving
Are you clear about the level of personal financial giving expected of each board member? Consider sacrificial giving to stewardship, possibly an additional gift if the parish is in a capital campaign and, if appropriate, remembering the parish in your estate plans. Parish council members must lead by example.
Are you willing to eventually step up and assume a leadership role? The means possible chairing a committee of the parish council, actively worshiping in the church and engaging in parish life.
Do recent meeting agendas show attention to a full range of governance duties, such as financial oversight, strategic planning, risk management, mission impact, fundraising, and governance oversight? Do you understand that the parish council governs the well being of the parish with the parish council chairperson leading the parish council and that the priest leads the parish and manages parish administration?
Are you willing to serve as an advocate for the mission of the parish to your personal and parish contacts? Are you willing to help secure donations for the parish through the stewardship program, fundraising events and mailings? Is it clear what’s expected of the entire board when it comes to fundraising? Are you clear about your individual role?
What do financial statements for the parish show? Is the parish one with few reserves or one with a nice safety cushion? Has the parish been posting losses year after year, or operating with surpluses? Is the financial operation of the parish transparent? Does the parish council include a qualified financial expert or two (unless that’s what you’re being recruited for!) to provide strong, fiduciary oversight?
Does the parish have a list of responsibilities or job description that clearly outlines what will be expected of you? Is it clear exactly which skills or expertise the parish council needs from you? Is there an orientation process for new members to ensure you will have all the information you need in order to be a knowledgeable and effective parish council member?
9. Parish Council Management
Does the parish council have a formal process to assess itself? Are meetings scheduled regularly?
10. Parish Council Development
Does the parish council educate its members about governance roles and responsibilities? Is training provided in fundraising and other tasks? Is there a governance committee dedicated to ongoing parish council development?