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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.