One Board Model: The new administrative structure.

Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult to get people to serve on committees, let alone in leadership. The common response is that there are too many meetings and people don’t want to commit. We must acknowledge that part of the issue is our current membership numbers, and while we foresee an increase in the number of congregants over the next year, the truth is the demand on people’s time will continue.

As such, I have had discussion with leadership about adopting a new administrative structure, known as the Simplified Accountable structure, or One Board Model. This model moves churches from four administrative committees (trustees, finance, staff-parish relations, and church council) to one Leadership Board encapsulating all responsibilities and authority of the previous four separate administrative committees. This Committee of Stewards would only meet once a month, freeing up people from endless Tuesday meetings. The 4 committees would still have chairs, but the administrative work is done by one committee, so that no one person has power over every aspect of the church.

This alternative structure is based on ¶247.2 of the 2016 Book of Discipline:

The charge conference, the district superintendent, and the pastor shall organize and administer the pastoral charge and churches according to the policies and plans herein set forth. When the membership size, program scope, mission resources, or other circumstances so require, the charge conference may, in consultation with and upon the approval of the district superintendent, modify the organizational plans, provided that the provisions of ¶ 243 are observed.

I have sought, and obtained, approval from our District Superintendent Cynthia Weems to move forward in a process of discernment. We will have some preliminary meetings and discussions with the intention of presenting to our upcoming Charge Conference, and asking for a vote on exploring and creating a plan for this change. In 2023 we would research and create the framework and have it fully adopted next fall at charge conference, with names attached to new model through nominations.

Please know that this is a work in progress, and congregational approval, in the form of a Charge Conference, is needed to approve formalization of a plan AS WELL AS approval of the new plan. The meetings will be open to all members of Cason, and congregational input will not only be welcome, but is essential for appropriate discernment. While approval of the plan is my ultimate goal, it is possible that in the end, Cason will decide that they do not wish to go in this direction. In short, no decisions have been made and full and open participation is important.

Cason is no stranger to this structure. For many years, Trustees and Finance met together as one committee. The format is being used across the denomination to great success, including churches in our area, such as FUMC Boca Raton. It has also proven ineffective in some locations where they did not get congregational buy in.

I have included a list of frequently asked questions below.

 Frequently Asked Questions

How often would the Board meet? 
The Book of Discipline requires that the Board meet quarterly at a minimum, but would most likely meet monthly, perhaps more often as needed to begin with.

Who needs to approve going to a Single Board model?
A church conference and the district superintendent must approve moving to a single board model of leadership.

What committees are impacted by moving to the Single Board model?
All of the Administrative Committees (i.e Trustees, Finance, SPRC, and Administrative Council) would become one. For separation of powers, so that no one person is in charge of all areas of the church, there would officially still be the four committees, each with their own chair, but they would share a common membership (9-15 people) and meet at the same time.

How many people should be on the board?
Church leadership experts recommend a total of 9-15 people make up the new board.

Can other church staff be on the New Board?
The Senior Pastor is a member of the Board, while other paid church staff can have a voice, but no vote on the new board.

Are there still three-year terms and classes?
Yes. One third of the Board is required to roll off each year.

Is the Board self-nominating?
No. There is still a requirement that there be a separate Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development to nominate the Board Members to the Charge Conference each year.

If the church moves to the simplified structure, how does ministry happen?
Even though the re-structuring occurs, ministry teams are still needed and in place. Fewer people on the Board means more people are available to do ministry. Simplifying structure is the combining of the four administrative teams of the Council, Trustees, Finance and PPR Committees.

What are the rules for the new Single Board?
The new Board has the ability to create the operating rules for the church in the form of two different documents. The first set is called Organizing Documents (or “founding documents”, i.e., by-laws) and can only be changed by the approval of a Church Conference. The second set of rules can be called whatever the church wants to call them, but they are “operating guidelines” (policy manual) for how the Board, the Pastor, the Church Staff and the Congregation will interact. The board will, with these operating guidelines, set the boundary rules for all of the entities that make up the church. The operating guidelines can be changed by a majority vote of the new board.

1 Comment

Deborah Carr - November 28th, 2022 at 6:32pm

I am a member of Queen's Chapel UMC in Beltsville MD. We are in the process of transitioning to this model. I have a question. How do you prepare and complete your Nomination Report for the Annual Church Conference? We've had to force-fit persons into the Standard Model and it isn't quite working. Did you prepare and submit a Modified Nominations Report for the ensuing year? If you have one, could you share it with me? Thank you in advance.