In their April 2016 meetings, the Board of Ministries and Board of Trustees acted upon a recommendation by Pastor Craig to suspend the church’s by laws for one year (from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017) so the church could try a more streamlined structure for the 2016-17 program year.
What did the previous structure look like?
In recent years the church was governed by a two board structure: a Board of Ministries (comprised of 9 members) and a Board of Trustees (comprised of 8 members). In addition to these 17 positions, there were 4 executive positions as well: Moderator, Vice Moderator, Church Registrar, and Finance Director.
Each Board met once a month to conduct its business. Once a quarter, the two Boards would come together and meet for a Council meeting. This meant that each member of a Board was also – by definition – a member of Council.
Why did we need to simplify the church structure?
First, several of the previous Board/Council positions did not have specific areas of oversight attached to their position.
Second, it was becoming increasingly difficult to recruit Board/Council members given the demands on peoples’ lives these days. This is something which which faith communities, political parties, and civic organizations are all grappling. Because of the difficulty of recruiting new Board/Council members, some who had been serving on one of the Boards felt trapped in their position. This increased the likelihood of burn out for our leaders.
Third, it was becoming clear that those arriving in church these days had a real desire to serve – they simply had no desire WHATSOEVER to attend monthly meetings.
With these factors in mind, Pastor Craig suggested we try streamlining the church structure so that fewer people were required to be at monthly meetings and more people could get involved with the actual delivery of ministry.
What does the new church structure look like?
Pastor Craig suggested we use a 5-position structure that looks something like the national setting of our denomination: The United Church of Christ. A non-profit is required by state law to have 4 positions (“Moderator”, “Vice Moderator”, “Secretary”, and “Finance Officer”). We added a fifth position – an “At-Large” position – to help with areas of responsibility not covered under the first four positions.
In order to reflect the Congregational values of a flat leadership structure (meaning one position – i.e. the Moderator – is not more important than another position), we moved away the traditional language often used by some local churches.
- Instead of using the title“Moderator”, for instance, we used the title Position 1. Position 1 has oversight of Property Maintenance, Personnel, and Pastor Parish Relations.
- Instead of using the title “Finance Officer”, we used the term Position 2. Position 2 has oversight of Stewardship, Fundraising, and Nursery School Business matters.
- Instead of using the title “Vice-Moderator”, we used the term Position 3. Position 3 has oversight of Worship, Adult Education & Music.
- Instead of using the title “Secretary” (or “Registrar”), we used the term Position 4. Position 4 has oversight of Membership/Fellowship, Community Partner Contracts, and Mission.
- Instead of using the title “At Large”, we used the term Position 5. Position 5 has oversight of Community Relations, Children & Youth Ministries, and Nursery School Programs.
Why didn’t you use more creative names for the Leadership Team positions?
We kept it simple this year in order to give us maximum flexibility as we move into the future. At the end of the year, the congregation can decide whether it wants to return to the previous structure, keep the structure from 2016-17 (with some tweaking), or move toward a new model.
Are we suggesting that just five people are responsible for doing everything?!?!
By no means!
Each of the 5 Leadership Team members will be asked to recruit individuals to provide leadership for each area they have oversight of. Position 1, for example, will identify one individual to provide leadership for Property Maintenance; one individual to provide leadership for Personnel matters; and one individual to provide leadership for Pastor Parish Relations. Those who provide leadership for a specific area will be encouraged to work with others to perform their duties.
The major difference between the former system and the new system we are trying out is that individuals who provide leadership for a specific area will no longer be required to attend BOTH Board and Council meetings. Instead, they will simply report to the Leadership Team member who provides oversight for that area.
Is there a guarantee that the new model will work better?
No. We simply know that previous model was no longer working. Whether or not the new system works better will be up to the participants of the church. If they sit back and simply watch the 5-member Leadership Team do all the work, then the new model will have NO chance of succeeding. If participants get involved – by either serving as a point person for a specific area of ministry under the oversight of one of the five members of the Leadership Team, or providing help on a particular project in the life of the church – then the model has a GREAT chance to succeed. Either way, we will know a great deal more about the future that lies for us by the end of the 2016-17 program year.