- Some wards in the Church are hitting on only a few cylinders, including some that are trying to make do with just one. The one-cylinder ward is the ward where the bishop handles all of the problems, makes all of the decisions, and follows through on all of the assignments.
The idea of councils is given to us by God and if effective, will be accompanied by His spirit.
- God, the Master Organizer, has inspired a creation of a system of committees and councils. If understood and put to proper use, this system will decrease the burden on all individual leaders and will extend the reach and the impact of their ministry through the combined help of others.
Elder Ballard discusses three councils in the church and shares what they do to help lighten the burden of the bishop and reach ward members.
- Let me review three ward committees and councils that always should follow a prearranged agenda.
- First is the priesthood executive committee.
- This committee meets weekly under the direction of the bishop to consider ward priesthood programs, including temple and family history, missionary, welfare, home teaching, and member activation.
- Second is the ward welfare committee.
- This committee meets at least monthly, again under the direction of the bishop, to consider the temporal needs of ward members. Only the bishop may allocate welfare resources, but the committee helps care for the poor by planning and coordinating the use of ward resources, including the time, talents, skills, materials, and compassionate service of ward members. In this and in other committee and council meetings, delicate matters often are discussed, requiring strict confidentiality.
- The third is the ward council.
- This council meets at least monthly to correlate planning for all ward programs and activities and to review ward progress toward accomplishing the mission of the Church. The ward council brings a varied group of priesthood and women leaders together to focus on the broad range of issues that affect ward members and the community. The council reviews suggestions from home teachers and visiting teachers.
- First is the priesthood executive committee.
He speaks about a concern of the General Authorities in retaining new converts in the church. The ward council should be actively involved in this process, working together to hold the new converts close.
- One major concern of the General Authorities is the lack of retention in full fellowship of some new converts and those who are less active in the Church. If ward councils are functioning as they should, every new convert will be fellowshipped, will have home teachers or visiting teachers, and will receive an appropriate calling within days after baptism. The less active will receive callings that assure them that they are needed and loved by the ward members.
Elder Ballard shares that working in unity and sharing the responsibility of watching over the church with the councils will lead to better solutions and outcomes.
- When stake presidents and bishops allow the priesthood and auxiliary leaders whom the Lord has called to serve with them to become part of a problem-solving team, wonderful things begin to happen. Their participation broadens the base of experience and understanding, leading to better solutions.
He summarizes his comments by sharing that great leadership brings people together for a common cause. God's plan is that we use councils to accomplish God's plan for His children.
- This is the miracle of Church councils: listening to each other and listening to the Spirit! When we support one another in Church councils, we begin to understand how God can take ordinary men and women and make of them extraordinary leaders. The best leaders are not those who work themselves to death trying to do everything single-handedly; the best leaders are those who follow God’s plan and counsel with their councils.
Elder Ballard concludes by reminding us that the family is the basic unit of the church and these principles can be followed in our family as well to make our homes a better place to live.
- Let us remember that the basic council of the Church is the family council. Fathers and mothers should apply diligently the principles I have discussed in their relationships with each other and with their children. In doing so, our homes can become a heaven on earth.
I have been part of come effective ward councils and some not so great ward councils. What I have learned from my experience is that when the ward council is united on lifting the burden that rests upon the bishop, the ward is happier, more engaged, and better organized. Bishops have a lot of responsibility and allowing them to focus on the things they must do, will allow them to provide the guidance and leadership necessary to lead the congregation to Christ. Elder Ballard's advice is as important today as it was over 20 years ago. If we are united in bringing others to Christ, we will work together to bring about this great cause.