Every effective local church needs a decision making structure to lead its mission.
Good governance is coordinated. The diverse activities continue with minimal interference and groups mutually reinforce each other’s efforts and the overall mission.
Good governance is participatory. Every member has the information and opportunity to access the process and engage in it.
Good governance is efficient. It minimizes confusion and miscommunication. It avoids duplication of efforts. It prevents the creation of “silos”—those isolated program areas that are unintegrated into the mission of the church.
Good governance is unifying. It brings the diverse teams and activities of the church together in common purpose. It holds everyone accountable to the stated HUMC mission.
Good governance values ministry activities over administrative work. It frees more of the time and talents of its members for ministry.
Change starts with evaluating what we have. Our current structure requires over 108 people to populate every team, task force and committee. We are blessed to have such a large, talented and enthusiastic pool of people on our leadership roster. There are a lot of good people giving excellent service to our church. They are our best resource!
The four main groups are Trustees, Staff-Parish Relations, Finance and the Administrative Council. Each of these holds a 2 hour monthly meeting. Over a year this is 96 hours of meeting time for the administration of the church. If we include one hour of prep time for each meeting it comes to 144 hours of administrative work. Multiply this figure by the leadership roster and we are well over 14,000 man hours spent in administrative activities.
Communication between administrative groups is a struggle. Information is missing or dated, which slows decision making. Months pass before all the data comes to the table. As delays occur, reporting out timely information to the congregation is easily overlooked.
There are duplicated conversations. A decision by the Trustees is often re-hashed by the finance team and then a third time at an Administrative Council meeting.
Our system is slow and prone to communication problems. It uses enormous amounts of volunteer time for a congregation of our size. It is worth considering if there might be a more effective way.
The United Methodist Book of Discipline gives churches freedom to develop their own governance that best fit their size and mission.
Many United Methodist Churches use a single board model. The congregation elects one board to govern its mission. That single board is designated to serve as Trustees, Staff-Parish, Finance and Nominations. It may meet on a monthly basis and conduct all the major administrative work of the church. This approach accomplishes a number of goals: It reduces the number of man-hours needed for administration and frees those hours to be used in ministry work of the church; it eliminates duplicated conversations and communications breakdowns; it enables the church to be more flexible and responsive in its decision-making; it’s easier for church members to understand and access. New ideas are addressed promptly. More hours are spent in ministry and mission moves faster.
In this New Year our Administrative Council will be exploring this possibility. You’re invited to be part of the conversation! Our next meeting is January 22 at 7 PM.
Connect, Grow, Serve!
Pastor Tom Anderson