Simple Board Governance FAQ

Simple Board Governance FAQ

At the Church Conference on November 5, 2019, we will be considering a proposal to change the governing structure of PB UMC to implement a form of Simple Board Governance. This “FAQ” document seeks to give some background on Simple Board Governance and to explain how it works.

Q. What is Simple Board Governance? How does PB UMC propose to implement it?
A. The primary focus of Simple Board Governance (SBG) is to simplify, or “flatten,” the leadership structure of the church. This will reduce the number of volunteer leaders required. Also, because fewer committees will be involved in making many decisions required for running the church, it will enable leadership to be more efficient and effective.

Different churches implement Simple Board Governance in different ways. PB UMC has chosen to start with the fairly modest approach of combining the three “church management” committees and the Administrative Council into one Administrative Board.

Q. Does the SBG structure meet the requirements of the UMC Book of Discipline
A. Yes. Since 1996 the Book of Discipline 247.2 has allowed for alternative governance structures, or boards, to be utilized. Many growing UMCs have adopted them so as to focus on meaning and not meeting.

Q. Why are we considering this change now?
A. The Administrative Council commissioned a subcommittee who spent over a year discussing and discerning the possibility of implementing Simple Board Governance. The reality we face is that we have fewer leaders to sit on committees. As people seek to care for themselves and their individual commitments, the church needs to be good stewards of the time our leaders entrust to us. This committee consolidation will ultimately aid our congregation by reducing the demands of “running” the church and freeing leadership energy for ongoing visioning and launching new ministries.

Q. How many people are on the new Administrative Board and how will it be structured? A. The proposed plan calls for ten voting members:  three with an emphasis on what has traditionally been Trustees’ work, three with an emphasis on Finance, three with an emphasis on Staff Parish Relations (SPRC), and the Lay Leader. If the Treasurer and/or Bookkeeper are not elected as board members, they are considered non-voting ex officio members. The Financial Secretary may also attend meetings or provide information as needed.

Simplified Org Chart – click for larger view

Q. Is the super-committee a combination of three mini-committees?
A. No. All ten members will be Trustees (and thus form the board of the PB UMC corporation). All ten members will be “on Finance” and “on SPRC.” In other words, all ten members vote on all motions. Following guidelines in the Book of Discipline for Trustees, two-thirds must be members of the Methodist Church.

Q. How does this change the number of people needed to fill committee seats?
A. Currently, Trustees, SPRC, and Finance have a total of 20-25 seats to fill, not counting the Lay Leader. This consolidation reduces that to nine seats.

Q. PB UMC’s current Administrative Council is made up of the chairs of all committees plus a secretary, the pastor, the Lay Leader, and a youth representative. It meets three to four times per year. What happens to this “old” Administrative Council?
A. The current Administrative Council will cease to exist. The new Administrative Board will take its place as the official administrative council of the church, including its ability to act as a Charge Conference in between annual all-church Charge Conferences.

Q. How often will the new Administrative Board meet? How will the meetings work and how long will they last?
A. The board will have the authority to set its own schedule and plan its own meetings. We envision that the board will meet monthly for 1.5 to 2 hours. After initial business (prayer, minutes), the board will break into its focus groups to discuss details related to each focus area. Then the entire board will come back together to discuss and vote on decisions.

Q. Does the Administrative Board have a chairperson?
A. Yes, like Trustees, the Board elects its own chair, who must be a member of PB UMC.

Q. How long will members serve on the Administrative Board?
A. The Administrative Board will be similar to the current Board of Trustees in this regard, with three classes of three people, each serving three years,  plus the Lay Leader, who is nominated and elected separately by the annual all-church Charge Conference. Insofar as possible, there will be one member from each class making up each of the three focus areas.

Q. Will the Administrative Board have term limits?
A. Term limits can help prevent stagnation and insularity on a board and bring fresh perspective from new members. Term limits can also hinder consistency and long-term commitment to service. The Discipline limits SPRC members to two three-year terms while prohibiting term limits for Trustees. The Discipline makes no requirements regarding term limits of the Finance committee.

Given these discrepancies, the Administrative Board will not strictly enforce term limits. The Nominating and Leadership committee will give prayerful consideration to the makeup of the Board for each new year, giving long-serving members the chance for “time off” (especially after serving two three-year terms) and giving new or returning members a chance to serve.

Q. How will Administrative Council members be selected for the first time? 
A. For the three committees that will be merged into one, each committee will consider and discuss which members on their committee are interested in the more demanding role of being on the new Administrative Board. As with any committee in a United Methodist congregation, the Leadership and Nominating committee prayerfully discerns capable leaders for various elected roles within the church. This is then up for amendment and vote at the annual all-church Charge Conference.

Q. What are the requirements for serving on the Administrative Board? 
A. In considering service on the new Administrative Board, due to its relatively small size, it is important that members of the new Administrative Board be available to meet every month without fail. Those not available to meet that higher commitment will be freed to share their gifts with the church and community in other ways.

Q. The Treasurer and Bookkeeper are listed as non-voting members. Could one or both be elected as full members? 
A. Yes. They can full, elected members. If one or both are not, then they are non-voting members.

Q. Is the Growing in Faith Committee changing?  
A. No. Growing in Faith is already functioning in a mostly autonomous way to manage worship, education, welcome, and outreach, and will continue to be responsible for these areas of ministry.

Q. What is the relationship (dotted line) between Growing in Faith Committee and the pastor?  
A. In a United Methodist church, the pastor has final responsibility and authority for how worship is conducted. Growing in Faith will continue to work in collaboration with the pastor in its role as the worship committee.

Q. What is the relationship (dotted line) between Growing in Faith Committee and new Administrative Board?  
A. This relationship is the same one that Growing in Faith has with the old Administrative Council. The new Administrative Board assumes the responsibility for coordination with and supervision of the Growing in Faith committee. In practical terms, we suggest that the Administrative Board invite the chair of the Growing in Faith committee to attend an Administrative Board meeting, perhaps once per quarter, to share celebrations, report concerns, coordinate projects, request support. etc.