Simplified Structures FAQ

What is a simplified structure?

A simplified structure pulls several administrative committees into one leadership board, much the way the boards of

secular nonprofits work. The separate committees of Church Council, Finance, Trustees, and Staff-Parish Relations will

come together into one new Leadership Council, or team. This Leadership Council will have nine members, divided into

three classes of three people, who will be nominated by the standing Committee on Lay Leadership. In addition, the

pastor and financial secretary will serve as ex officio members without vote. All meetings will be open to all church

members, unless they are closed for personnel matters.

Is this structure encouraged by the United Methodist Church?

Yes. Since so many churches are moving to this form of governance, the Book of Discipline has made changes to allow it.

Although the Leadership Council will work as a whole, three individuals each will be designated as Trustees, Finance, and

Staff-Parish Relations to fulfill Disciplinary requirements.

Why a simplified structure for First UMC?

For quite some time, the Missouri Conference (and others around our denomination) has identified moving to a

Simplified Structure form of church leadership as a best practice for churches of almost any size. The intent is

straightforward. By moving people off of administrative committees, we are encouraging more time for ministry and

mission. The underlying assumption is that we don’t want to say to someone, “We’re so glad that you’re excited about

Jesus and your faith walk! Now, let’s put you on a committee!” As we seek to be in ministry with busy families, we don’t

want to burden them with lots of administrative meetings and duties. We would prefer that their time be spent in

worship and service.

As a result of moving to this model, our decision-making process will be streamlined. No longer will someone need to

consult with several different groups before moving forward with a new ministry initiative. Instead, ministry ideas can be

presented at one time, with all of the decision-making people in the room. Not only that, but every decision concerning

our ministry will be made with all of the players sitting together, focusing on the mission of the church.

Why now?

We have been studying this possibility for quite some time. We have strong, stable leadership from both clergy and laity.

With high trust and positive energy, we believe there is no better time to make this transition for the future benefit of

our church.

How have we prepared for this proposal?

We began speaking about this form of leadership in Church Council a couple of years ago. Together, we have studied it

in books by Bishop Schnase and Bishop Farr. In February 2017, we hosted a Heartland District educational event about

this model. We have worked with a coach, Scott Walker, who has helped other churches adopt this model. We have

looked at what some other churches have done in this area. Our leaders held a Study Day to address this model in depth

before presenting it to the Church Council for a vote to proceed in November 2017. Since that vote, a task force has

been continuing to work on the details.

What is the leadership covenant?

Since we will have considerably fewer people in formal leadership roles, we are using this opportunity to strengthen our

expectations of leadership. The lay leadership of our congregation will be followers of Jesus Christ who support the

mission of this church. Every time someone joins our church, we ask them to promise to support this church with their

prayers, their presence, their gifts, their service, and their witness. Therefore, we will expect our leaders to: 1) Pray daily

for the church, our mission, and our leaders; 2) Attend worship at First UMC whenever they are in town; 3) Support the

church financially, by tithing or moving towards a tithe; 4) Be involved in at least one mission project and/or small group;

and 5) Invite people to come to church with them. In addition, this group of leaders will covenant to arrive at every

Council meeting having already read the packet, prepared to engage prayerfully and fully in the work of the group.

What is “accountable leadership?”

An important part of this transition is the emphasis on accountable leadership. In essence, the clergy and staff will be

reporting to the Leadership Council each month our progress on agreed-upon goals for the church. In March or April, the

incoming leaders, along with our pastors, will meet to set goals for the rest of the year. Each month, a packet of reports

will be sent to the leaders a week before the meeting. The packet will contain financial reports, attendance figures, and

other data and reports that focus on meeting our goals. Thus, our Leadership Council meetings will have a strong focus

on our shared goals and mission.

I’ve got an idea for a new ministry! How can I bring it forward?

The important questions are: 1) How will this idea help us with our mission of making faithful, hopeful, and loving

disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? 2) Who is going to be responsible for this project? (In other

words, don’t bring a proposal that begins with “Someone ought to . . .”) 3) What will it cost and how will it be paid for? If

there are answers to all three questions, we may move forward. Specific forms and suggestions to create a successful

ministry proposal will be forthcoming and readily available to all.

Won’t a simplified structure simply put power into the hands of a few people?

Each Leadership Council meeting will provide time for an open forum, where any church member can bring a ministry

proposal to the council. The meetings are public, unless they are closed for personnel matters. Our financial statements

are public, as always. Anyone who is interested in the administrative workings of the church is welcome to attend and

speak. There is really nothing new with this approach, by the way. Any church member may attend Church Council

meetings at any time.

How will the final decision to move to a simplified structure be made?

We have called a Church Conference meeting for Sunday, January 28 at noon in our sanctuary, to be led by our District

Superintendent, Rev. Jim Simpson. All members of First UMC are voting members of the Church Conference.

What is the timing of this transition?

Once the Church Council approves this plan in January, the Lay Leadership Committee will convene to identify and

nominate the Lay Leadership Council in February. We’ll call another conference for the election of these leaders. From

March through June, these incoming leaders will work side-by- side with our existing committees. On July 1, the new

Leadership Council will be officially in place, and we will begin operating under this model.

I’m interested in serving in a leadership role at First UMC. How can I get involved?

If you’ve read these comments and are thinking about whether God might be calling you to serve in leadership at First

UMC, feel free to send Sally an email at She’ll be in contact with you and forward that

information to the Lay Leadership Committee.

How is the church being informed about the simplified structure?

We are holding informational meetings, on Sunday, January 21 after each worship service: at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in

Room 11 (in the basement), and at 11:45 a.m. in Room 112. There will be one more meeting on Monday, January 22 at

6:15 p.m. in Room 112. We are putting information in the January newsletter, on our website, and in these FAQ’s. If

you’ve got more questions, ask Sally Haynes, Bob Blaine, Randy Williams, or any other of our church leaders.

Leadership Covenant

As a member of the Leadership Council of First UMC Blue Springs, I covenant to live out my membership

vows fully, by:

  • Praying for the ministries of First UMC, including clergy, staff, and all who call this church home. 
  • Attending worship every week that I am in town. 
  • Supporting our ministries financially, by tithing or moving towards a tithe. 
  • Being involved in at least one mission project and/or small group. 
  • Inviting people to attend church with me. 

In addition, I covenant to participate in the Council meetings by:

  • Attending every meeting. 
  • Reading the packet of reports closely before the meeting. 
  • Bringing all questions and comments to the meeting and engaging fully in discussions. 
  • Once a group decision is made, respecting and supporting the group decision. 
  • Maintaining strict confidentiality for personnel matters.

(Based on the Accountable Leadership presentation from February 2017 powerpoint slides.)

Meeting would be held on the 2 nd Monday of each month at 7 p.m.

Wednesday before each meeting, a packet is emailed to all Board members, including:

  • Most recent financial report
  • Attendance figures for worship
  • Reports on monthly activities from program staff- Invitational Ministries (number of first-time visitors for month, number of returning visitors); Caring Ministries (number of visits for month); Education (SS attendance figures for month for all ages, special activities/attendance); Youth (attendance, special activities); Missions (activities, including number of participants). (We could also include UMW and UMM reports in these packets if those groups choose to provide them.) 
  • Minutes from previous month’s meeting. 
  • Agenda

Typical Agenda

Time of prayer, spiritual formation, leadership development. Led by laity, probably Chair. 15-20 minutes.

Review of New People. Pastor

Review of Goals. Pastor and Council

New Visions. Anyone

Pressing Issues/Problem Solving. Council

Approval and Questions from Packet. Council

“So, what did we decide tonight? Who do we need to share it with?”

Prayer. Pastor