I’ve been thinking about ward activity lately. There are wards with just a few people to draw from, and other wards where there are more members than callings. I really feel for the Bishop who has to juggle a certain number of members, attitudes, abilities, and strength. The Relief Society President can help with this load.
I am talking about the use of committees within the ward. We joke about Mormon Committees, but there is a lot of good they can accomplish. I’m hoping you’ll find groups that like coming together. Groups can make people feel like they belong.
Face it, the only reason some sisters come to Relief Society is because it is part of the Church schedule, not because there is a feeling of “I am needed, or I need Relief Society”. If the presidency doesn’t act like a functioning “committee”, the sisters in the ward will feel completely lost, devalued, and ultimately find other places to belong, and find fulfillment. It is so helpful (and less stressful) to have goals, objectives, purpose, an assignment; some kind of direction. Presidencies should have them and offer them to all ward sisters.
I have mentioned before that each presidency needs to sit down with the Bishop to find out what the needs are. Then, together, as a presidency, you can set reachable goals that can help ward families do what they need to be doing. To be really effective, this action could involve all of the sisters in the ward as you plan together, brainstorm ideas together, and get excited together.
Then comes the fun part: Form committees. Put sisters together and give them the responsibility to carry out their part of the ultimate goal. They can be as creative as they want. They can plan their get togethers as often as they want (avoiding conflict with other committee plans of course), they can set up their own challenges, activities, and even decide when the goal has been reached. Then let them invite the ward to follow their course of suggested action.
Here are some examples:
1) Let’s say one of the Bishop’s goals is an emphasis on Service. (Be sure to look at the post from RS-Community, Kaysville). The President can introduce the idea in Sunday Relief Society and see who is interested in heading this up, by show of hands. Write the sisters’ names down and contact them (as a President, assigned Counselor, or a Presidency) during the week. (This gives a sense of importance to what they are about to undertake.) Let them organize themselves, form a plan of action, present it to the Presidency, then go for it. Communicate so everyone can be supportive.
This committee could supply service projects throughout the year, or to be completed at home. They could find a nearby Care Center, Halfway House, Hospital, etc. to provide on-going service. They can create a list (with the help of the Priesthood) of ward members who need help, and match adults and youth to fulfill those needs. Whatever ideas they come up with, that committee is in charge of involving the ward in service. This is a goal that never ends, but should be regularly evaluated and monitored for optimum performance.
2) Maybe the Bishop would like to emphasize preparedness for all ward members. Again, the idea can be presented at a Sunday meeting. Maybe you won’t get as many hands raised, and maybe the enthusiasm level is a little low for this one. The committee’s main job would be to build consistent enthusiasm and motivation that might otherwise be forgotten during the year. A committee might want to assess the skills and equipment of the ward members. They can gather information, and coordinate training that cities and counties provide. This committee could offer a schedule of challenges, and personal evaluations, keeping families motivated to complete their own responsibility.
3) Bishops are usually worried about the activity level of the ward. Missionary work is ongoing and never ending. A Welcome Committee could be formed to visit new families—in the name of the Bishopric and RS Presidency—offering goodies, ward list, and friendship. A Visiting Teaching Committee could help track down all those people who are lost, or tend to get forgotten (every ward has some). A committee could be formed that visits people who are in the hospital, or who just had a baby, or those who can’t come out to Relief Society meetings.
A committee can help take the load off of presidents and Bishops, love and befriend people, help the ward be consistent in their progress, and involve so many more people in the ward. A group of people can cover much more ground than a single person. It’s so much more fun to work together, than separately. A sister can be involved in any number of these committees, whether she has another calling, or not. Consistency, companionship, and collective involvement will make your ward family glow in the Spirit of the Lord.