It got me thinking - what if churches created a similar role in congregations? I suppose Mutual Ministry teams kinda function that way, but not every church has those. Furthermore, from what I'm told, a lot of Mutual Ministry teams don't really serve the purpose for which they were created.
So here's how I'd set up a Congregational Ombudsman:
- A 12-month position that starts December 1.
- Person must have been an active member for 10+ years
- Appointed by the congregational council
- Functions as a sounding-board, not as an agent for change
- Writes a 750-word article that's posted in the narthex
- Only receives input via email (to prevent them from being bombarded at church)
- Provides specific (quarterly) recommendations through the appropriate channels
Having an ombudsman would give people permission to share opinions about their church. The job of the ombudsman is not to derail the church / leaders / staff...nor is it to defend those entities. Ideally, this person has the best interest of the church in mind, so they would want to take great care in how they present the feedback they've received. The goal is to give the people (especially those who stand in the corner of the narthex, back of fellowship hall, or in the parking lot and complain about the church) a place where they can share their thoughts, if they don't feel they can go anywhere else.
Of course there are flaws with this idea - namely that it allows people to circumvent what Matthew outlined in 18:15-20. Regardless, I think it would improve communication and transparency in churches...and help people feel that their voice is being heard.
I'd love to read your thoughts on this idea...