A Message from pastor Matt
A message from pastor matt
March 27, 2022
Brunswick UMC Family and Friends,
In a recent newsletter, I mentioned that our church council was beginning to explore a new model for governing churches that has been growing in popularity throughout our denomination for the past decade and more. This model is called the Simplified Accountability Structure for Missional Effectiveness (SAS). Our conference has been encouraging churches to make this change and it is currently used by many East Ohio churches with a lot of success.
I personally am a huge fan of the SAS and I am delighted that our Administrative Council is taking time to consider it. We are currently in the “discernment phase” of the process of adopting the SAS. This means that our church leadership is looking at how the new model works and comparing it with our current system. Be aware that no decision to change has been made. We are only prayerfully exploring the possibility. Any change would have to be approved by the membership of the church at a charge or church conference. This process is going to be transparent and open to every member of the church. We are working closely with the East Ohio Conference of the UMC in this process and they have assigned an experienced coach to advise us as we move forward.
What is the SAS you might ask? How is it different than how we currently operate? The reality is that the current administrative committee structure established by our Discipline no longer works for our church. Also, keep in mind that we are talking about administrative committees, not groups that are actually doing hands on ministry and mission work. The administrative structure of our church simply manages the finances and the building.
Our current system requires 4 major committees: Administrative Council, Staff Parish Relations, Finance, and Nominating. Our Administrative Council has positions for 16 people. Currently, no more than five church members attend regularly. Remember that these are the people who make most of the major decisions about our missions, ministries, and daily operations.
The other three committees should each have 9 to 12 members organized into three classes. One third of each committee should rotate off at the end of the year to be replaced by new members. This simply doesn’t happen. There are no term limits for any of our committees. People often find themselves committed for life, or at least until they resign. There are only six or seven church members who routinely attend Finance Committee meetings and six who regularly participate in Staff Parish Relations meetings. The Nominating Committee meets when necessary, and currently has four members.
What we learn from all this is that under our current system we should have a minimum of 43 church members participating on these four committees that run the church. When you take into account that many people serve on two or more committees, the harsh reality is that only twelve or thirteen people regularly participate in all four committees. From the standpoint of administration, our current system of church governance is failing.
Adopting the SAS model would alleviate this situation. Under the new system a Leadership Board of 9 church members (plus the pastor) replaces these committees (except Nominations) and performs all the required administrative functions creating a streamlined and efficient leadership structure in the church. Three members of the Leadership Board would rotate off each year allowing a broader variety of people to participate.
Efficiency is important, but the greatest characteristic of the SAS model is that it drives the Leadership Board to focus on the vision and mission of the church. It frees church members from administration and lets them spend their time in actual ministry and mission work. The Leadership Board “governs” the church and holds the pastor and church staff (both paid and volunteer) accountable to ensure that the members of the church are empowered to answer God’s call in their lives.
Under the SAS model, the members of the church participate together in ministry and mission “teams.” Although we don’t use the team terminology, most of our missions and ministries are actually run by teams. For example, we have a dedicated group of volunteers who run Vacation Bible School each summer (the VBS team.) We also have a group that organizes and teaches Sunday school each week (the Sunday School team). There is a lot of overlap between these two teams, but they are not composed of the exact same people. The same could be said of our food ministries. We currently have a Soup Dinner Team, a Fish Dinner Team, and a Sunday Breakfast Team. Once again, a lot of overlap of volunteers, but not exactly the same. We are already doing ministry as teams, we just need to get used to the new terminology.
I hope this brief overview of the SAS model of church governance has been helpful. In the near future (dates and times to be determined) we will hold town hall meetings to provide more information and to allow you to ask questions. Once again, remember that we are only exploring the possibility of change. Any real alteration of our system will have to be decided by a vote of the entire church. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.