Committee on Shared Ministry
1. The Charge
The Committee on Shared Ministry (CoSM) is concerned with the spiritual health of the entire ministry of the congregation, as a reflection of mission fulfillment.
Its mandate is to assess the work of the congregation and minister/s, report on its findings, and make recommendations. The CoSM does not implement or direct change; its role is to assess effectiveness and recommend potential improvements.
Its scope includes the total ministry of the church:
- the integrated work of clergy and laity
- volunteer and employed leadership
- friends and members
- people of all ages – children, youth, and adults
- No ministry is exempt from evaluation by, and recommendation from, the CoSM. The synergistic power of wholeness demands that attention be paid to every part. The CoSM does not evaluate the performance of people; it assesses the effectiveness of the ministry they engage in. This assessment includes:
- the Board
- ordained ministers
- all staff
- all lay leaders
- all professional leaders
The CoSM establishes reasonable rhythms and cycles between:
- congregational assessments
- professional leadership (clergy and staff) assessments
In addition, the Committee may assess, report on, recommend, or raise concerns about other issues at its discretion. These topics may be taken to the Board in the form of discussions, letters or reports.
Assessment tools are tailored to whatever group or individual is being assessed. The CoSM reports and makes non-binding recommendations to the various agents of ministry, the Board and the congregation. It shall report at least annually to the Board. Its useful gauges are the congregation’s mission, covenant, by-laws, standing rules, group mandates, policies, vision, goals, current issues, state of functionality, spiritual mood, perceived needs, and social impact.
2. Responsibilities of the Committee on Shared Ministry
- Continually monitors congregational life
- Helps model healthy and deepening relationships with minister/s and program staff
- Continually educates itself about ministry
- Supports continuing education of the congregation to help enhance its understanding and skill in shared ministry
- Coordinates periodic assessments of the shared ministry of the congregation and its leadership components
- Periodically advises the Board regarding the health of the shared ministry
- Supports the clergy’s planning for continuing education, sabbaticals, personal support and other professional development (but does not serve as the personal support group for clergy serving the church)
- Recommends and actively supports such plans to the Board and to the congregation
- Makes recommendations to the Board with regard to church sponsorship of ministerial students and community ministers.
The CoSM shall meet monthly with a prepared agenda for each meeting. It is important for it to take the pulse of the health of the congregation’s ministry at each meeting. Each participant is responsible for being sufficiently involved in the life of the congregation so that s/he can each briefly report on how the congregation is attending to its mission.
The CoSM can focus its attention on the vitality and health of the congregation and, when appropriate, to steer resources to emerging issues. Members should watch and listen to what is going on in the church, including:
- what needs are and are not being met
- how relationships between different groups within the congregation are developing or deteriorating
- how the church is relating to its neighboring community
- how welcoming is the congregation to visitors and inviting to new friends and membersIt is very important that the CoSM develop a Code of expectations, behaviors, and responsibilities so that all members can be held accountable to an agreed upon process and standards.All committee meetings should be conducted as executive sessions with all discussions held in strictest confidence. It must be a fully safe place to share perspectives and experiences. These discussions often inform and direct the Committee’s follow-up work with the congregation so the subject matter then becomes public.
At some part of the regularly scheduled monthly meetings, members of the congregation should be invited to make presentations, present concerns or appreciations. This portion of the meeting would be an open session. That is, it would not operate in executive session.
There will be six lay members serving three-terms with two members on and off each year. One year must pass before a former member may be considered for another term. No lay person may serve more than six years in a 10-year period.
Current called/settled clergy will serve on the CoSM in an advisory, non-voting capacity.
Although Board members should not serve on the CoSM, the Board will appoint a liaison to keep the CoSM current on matters of importance and update the Board on the CoSM’s activities and concerns.
5. Selection of Members
The CoSM is a committee of the Board, which chooses members in consultation with the clergy based on the following:
- Commitment to the congregation’s vision, mission, and ministry above all other agendas
- A big-picture perspective
- Personal integrity
- Caring honesty
- Ability to keep confidences
- People skills, including intercultural and intergenerational skills
- Ability to work collaboratively
- A healthy ego
- Institutional savvy
- Membership status
- Unitarian Universalism experience
- Completion of Jubilee II, Beloved Conversations or another form of anti-racism training
- Experience in evaluative techniques such as surveys and focus groups
6. Replacement of Members for Cause
Any member of the CoSM may be removed for cause and replaced by the Board.
Committee on Shared Ministry – Code of Conduct
The Committee on Shared Ministry’s work is an important support to the ongoing healthy functioning of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. Members are therefore expected to be actively involved in the functions and activities of the church, to regularly attend Committee on Shared Ministry meetings, and to participate fully in the assessment of church ministries and other activities.
Because the Committee on Shared Ministry’s work is sensitive in nature, members are expected to maintain high standards of confidentiality and impartiality, while upholding the mission and vision of the church.
What is the best way to contact the CoSM?
If a member of the congregation has a concern about the health and well-being of our beloved community, they are always invited to bring that concern to a member of the CoSM. Each of us welcomes phone calls, a conversation at church on Sunday, or emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.