Ada — Would you consider beginning a dialogue with some of your friends and colleagues about how positions of leadership should be filled in the church?
Do we fill spots of responsibility based only on a person’s willingness to say “yes”? Do we assume their spiritual maturity by their frequency of attendance?
Over 25 years ago, Dr. Rolly Fleck and Dr. Bernard Spilka were frustrated with the movies depicting mass murderers as extremely religious people who were always carrying their Bibles, and using scriptural pronouncements as they did horrific crimes.
They discovered there was some research support for these assumptions. What they also discovered, was that the researchers coming up with these findings were using frequency of church attendance as their measure of religiosity. Therefore, the more often a person attended church, the more religious they were assumed to be. Research using this definition of religiosity was cosistently correlating “high religiosity” with severe mental illness.
Neither of these men believed that church attendance was a reliable or accurate measure of religiosity. Instead, they discovered, through rigorous research two categories of religiosity that could be defined through behavior and daily decision-making approaches used by individuals in churches and synagogues.
They first identified two types of “religious” people: those who used their religion for personal gain (e.g. to help their business, to increase their standing in the community, etc.); and a second category of individuals who actually lived their faith on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis. This latter category based their day-to-day decisions and activities on their religious beliefs.
They later identified a third type of religious person. They identified a type that uses their religion to meet psychological needs (to belong, to feel accepted, to feel important, etc.)
Do we need an instrument like this in our selection/recruitment process? Can we find someone in our congregation with a gift or ability for discernment to make sure we get the healthiest, most spiritually mature people in positions of teaching or ministry?