Strengthening Decision-Making and Governance Supporting New Expeditions
by Blake Bradford
Author Blake Bradford writes that strengthening the decision-making process is one of the steps your congregation will need to be effective and fruitful. He notes that church governance is complex, and a host of issues from church size, matriarch/patriarch issues, local culture, congregational history, and pastoral history come into play when defining a particular church’s culture, much less about changing the church’s culture.
The governing model for most mainline denominations was explicitly designed to slow down the decision-making processes. The legacy model of governance is for multiple governing committees to meet (always in person), work through questions, send them to a church council, perhaps have questions sent back to numerous other committees. Then the committee members are usually also the ones mobilizing the ministry to be done. Some congregations even have inherited a bicameral governing system in which leadership is divided between an Administrative Board (responsible for finances, facilities, staffing, and resources) and a separate Council on Ministries (responsible for programs and ministries). To get anything approved, an idea must survive both governing bodies.
These inherited systems were born out of the post-war era when the church’s goals were often assumed, growth was assumed, volunteerism was assumed, and the church’s role in the greater culture was assumed. Perfectly created for that era and culture, these layers of committee structures were designed to slowly examine any potential change and not “rock the boat.”
Today’s context for congregations couldn’t be more different. While the legacy structures we inherited are exquisitely designed to make sure nothing new ever happens, the leadership structures that we need today must be nimble, adaptive decision-making groups that are designed to hold us accountable to Jesus’ mission and unleash more disciples to be engaged in ministry, not just attend meetings about ministry.
What readers are saying about Blake's book:
Strengthening Decision Making and Governance Supporting New Expeditions is a must-have resource for Pastors and Church Leadership. I recommend it as required reading for all who serve on their church’s governing body. This quick and easy-to-read guidebook helps churches with legacy governance models designed for a foregone era embrace a structure for effectively guiding discipleship and impactful ministry in today’s rapidly changing environment. It is also an essential tool in preparing new governing leaders for their roles in churches that have already installed a simplified model.
Joe Park, President & CEO of Horizons Stewardship
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it seems as if the whole world has been in crisis mode. Beyond the obstacles that this has presented, we have been presented the opportunity to entirely retool and realign our ministry focus, breaking away from what was broken in the structures that are passing away. Now is the time to get serious about the missional alignment of your ministry and to get serious about bearing fruit, which, in both cases, means establishing a simplified and accountable leadership structure. This book is a gift in realizing this transformation in your ministry. Dr. Bradford will aid you in creating a new Ministry Action Plan for your ministry.
J. Martin Lee, Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC
It will be well worth your time to journey with Blake Bradford and his new book on church governance. Blake is already an expert we look to for help; this book provides clear, straightforward guidance that our churches are looking for to better focus on making disciples and changing the world in their communities. Thanks for the map, Blake!
Sarah Calvert, District Superintendent, Virginia Conference
Church leaders today are challenged in ways we never expected. We are guiding our ministry through a global pandemic and trying to move from a 20th century model of church to a 21st-century model. Blake Bradford’s new book, Strengthening Decision-Making and Governance Supporting New Expeditions, is a powerful resource for all types of churches who are looking to focus more on fruitfulness and less on maintaining the institution. New wine requires new wineskins, and this book will guide you and yourleaders to creating a new structure designed for the future.
Ken Willard, West Virginia Conference of the UMC