Structuring Your Church for Mission

posted on August 22

Is Simple Governance Right For Our Church? Many local churches are looking for a more streamlined way to lead the congregation in decision making, planning, and visioning. Rev. Katie Lineberger and Rev. Gloria Hughes, both Vitality Associates within the WNCC, have provided the following information to help local churches begin to understand why and how to move to a simple structure, or single board model of church leadership.

“Governance is the work of leading the whole congregation in discerning and articulating its mission, vision, and values. Management is the work of leading and coordinating the specific ministries and responsibilities within the congregation to fulfill its mission. And ministry is the work of directly touching the world with the mission.” -Stephen Ross, p. 81 of Simple Governance: Liberating Your Church for Mission

  • Is your current board structure more focused on the management of the ministries of the church vs. leadership and governance? 

  • When was the last time you talked about how you're doing at making disciples at a church meeting? Or do you get bogged down in who is mowing the grass and what color paint should be used in classrooms? If it’s been a while since you talked about making disciples, a new model might help focus on that.

  • Do you want to have richer conversations at church meetings about the church’s progress on goals to achieve the mission and vision? 

  • Do you desire for the mission of the church to drive the structure vs. the structure driving the mission?

  • Does it take weeks or months for your church to make decisions?  

  • Are the steps/processes of starting new ministries so daunting that people get discouraged and give up? 

  • Are the same people serving on all or most of the church committees in your current structure? 

  • Are your board meetings just another family reunion?

  • Are you willing to do the work of not just changing your leadership structure, but also making the changes necessary for having different conversations at church meetings and how decisions are made?

Process of Moving From Management to Governance

  1. Introduce governance model
  2. DS Consultation
  3. Read Simple Governance: Liberating Your Church for Mission by Stephen Ross
  4. Church Council Action - get permission to discuss moving to new structure
  5. Town Hall Meetings to discuss new structure
  6. All-Church Conference to vote on governance structure
  7. Training/Workshop
  8. Form nominations committee. The board cannot self-nominate so a separate nominations committee must be formed. Minimum of two, no more than 4 on the nominations committee and they cannot be related.
  9. Engage in a call process to recruit members of new leadership board
  10. Start the implementation
  11. Develop Guiding Principles/Policies such as official structure of the church (terms how people are elected, responsibilities, qualifications, etc.), financial policies, Safe Sanctuary policy, church facility use, employment policies
  12. Practice new meeting Structure 
  13. Identify SPRC liaison & trustees chair & finance liaison at first meeting
For more information on developing a single board structure or simple governance for your church, contact Rev. Katie Lineberger