The above structure was adopted by Church Council in September of 2017 to take effect in February of 2018, per the motion of LEADFirst. It follows the trend of most very large churches and creates a more streamlined structure at the top that facilitates:
- The multiplication of leadership and ministries throughout the church according to our congregational vision
- A partnership between the congregation and church staff in ministry implementation.
So the answer to the question, “Who runs the church, laity or staff?” is “They partner together.” The role of the Church Council is:
- To communicate and facilitate our vision,
- To make sure our ministries are developing to their greatest impact through strong partnership with congregation and staff,
- To resource our ministries with information and funding and
- To guide the church in meeting major opportunities or challenges.
While this structure is more streamlined, it is designed to spread out with higher impact and flexibility, even able to add new positions as needed.
In very large congregations, effective ministry is best facilitated with a staff liaison relationship for the various ministries. As liaisons, they do not chair or sit in on all the committees and task forces, but rather are there for resourcing. For instance, the Outreach Arena of ministry consists of three villages that are developing rapidly: Greater Round Rock Village, You, the Body Village (including regional efforts and “Friends of First Church”) and our International Village (Panama, Sierra Leone and others to come). Each of these villages will sponsor efforts that will require teams to develop to meet that missional need with designated leaders. New leadership for substantial efforts are developed and deployed. The staff liaison (Associate Pastor) could not possibly be at all the meetings but would be available for resourcing and guidance as well as provide a conduit to Church Council.
Another example would be Trustees (a committee with 9 persons). The First Match Campaign was led by a short-term team to allow for effective promotion and connection with knowledgeable people in the areas of concern: Trees, HVAC Maintenance, and Security. Following the campaign, there now is an Emergency Preparedness Team of 8 persons (including laypersons and staff) with its chair that reports to Trustees that is handling the security aspects from the monies raised (bringing specific expertise for medical, weather, and safety concerns). Then there is a Critical Incident Team of 4 persons (led by some of our Law Enforcement folks) with its chair that reports to the Emergency Preparedness Team to lead us toward the best strategies for preventing and dealing with the threat of violence (including training of our Ushers, Greeters, Andrew Ministry and Parking Posse). The primary staff liaison for Trustees is Cindy Thompson.
It doesn’t take long to consider what this kind of effort could mean for the crucially important Communications Arena: a Website Team, a Publicity/Advertisement Team, a Live Stream Team, a Troubleshooting Team, a Video Team, a Social Media team, etc. We know these talents are already at First Church, but not anywhere near fully deployed. Betty Robertson is the liaison and facilitator of this ministry.
This multiplication of teams allows people to serve where they are most gifted for the short term and long term. Churches of our size have discovered that this more streamlined structure allows for a greater proliferation of ministries and the development and deployment of many more leaders in the congregation.
Note the following: The other administrative bodies (Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, Staff-Parish Relations Committee, LEADFirst, and Annual Conference delegates) all remain the same as before. The budget will not be approved by the more streamlined Council, but rather go through a process in which there is a budget team that builds the budget in response to our other administrative committees and ministries, presents it to Finance, and then approval is made in a Church Conference gathering.