Leadership Structure Change

Grace UMC will vote on a proposed change to its leadership structure this Sunday. It's definitely a work in progress, and assuming the change is supported all of next year will be a series of trials, errors, retrials, and learning. Here's a word I'm sending to the congregation tomorrow.

It's cool outside, the leaves are falling, houses are decorated with lights, it's almost time!

For a Church Conference! Yeehaw!

The vote will take place this Sunday, December 15, following the 11:00 service. The only agenda item is a vote on the recommended change to the church leadership structure. Here's a list of Q&A before the vote:

  1. Why am I just now hearing about this? You're not! Two years ago, Grace received a list of five prescriptions following the Healthy Church Initiative weekend-long series of meetings. Those prescriptions were accepted by a vote of the church membership, 53-1.
  2. One of the prescriptions called for a study team to evaluate the church leadership structure and consider the change to a single board. This team, co-chaired by Stephen Clayton and Christy Drenner, recommended the change after their own deliberations and conversations with our HCI consultant, Rev Edlen Cowley. The potential change was supported unanimously by Grace's Administrative Council earlier this year. By the way, Edlen's church changed to this model a year ago; it's made a huge difference. Recently in our Northwest District, First UMC of Decatur also made this change.
  3. Why should I vote yes to the change? Here's how the Arkansas Conference summarized the move: "Churches desiring to recruit and equip modern leaders will likely need to shift into the simplified, accountable leadership structure. This is often called a single-board model of governance (although using that terminology can be misleading), in which all the ongoing administrative and strategic functions of leadership are delegated to a single executive team. This structure is enabled by the 2016 UMC Book of Discipline ¶ 247.2. The duties and responsibilities of the traditional four administrative committees -- finance, personnel (Staff/Pastor Parish Relations), property (Trustees), and administrative board – can be combined into a single governing leadership team. This simplification of your structure allows a streamlined and clear line of accountable leadership: 
  • The governance responsibilities of fiduciary work (goal assessment, financial and facility oversight, and legal responsibilities), generative work (creativity, teambuilding, new questions) , and strategic work (creating plans for the future) take priority in the lay leadership team’s work.
  • The management of the day-to-day church should be the responsibility of the pastor and staff (paid and unpaid).
  • The laity of the church are equipped for ministry.
When leadership moves to the simplified, accountable leadership structure, the church begins to align all its resources to the congregation’s mission and unique vision. Those resources include such things as time, energy, people, facility, budget, or calendar."

This change will allow more lay people to devote time to doing hands-on ministry, rather than committing to serve on committees. It's a more fluid structure for decision making and empowers people to do the work Christ calls us to do. The meetings will be regularly scheduled, not sporadic, and will be open to the congregation, except when personnel discussions are addressed.
4. Why are we doing this now? This vote allows the church to begin a new year with the new leadership model in place.