Simplified Board Structure

Many United Methodist churches are going to a streamlined form of congregational governance which is more effective use of our time and resources today. Annual Conferences everywhere are encouraging this development as they see the advantages of lean, more strategic church leadership.

Our focus is to have efficient, accountable church leadership while getting more people involved in mission and ministry instead of committees.

Check out Kay Kotan and Blake Bradford: "Mission possible: a simple structure for missional effectiveness"

  • Use as a book study for church council and nominations, learning with your ministry teams and/or network






Here is a PowerPoint presentation to review with your nominations and church council on the overview of the simplified board model. The PowerPoint presents:

  • How churches are structured
  • Leadership Inventory of who all is involved in leadership
  • Define a simplified leadership board & ministry teams
  • Figure out what type of simplified leadership board structure looks like in your congregation
  • Incorporate three key documents in governance meetings: covenant, agenda and guiding principles



Nuts & Bolts

Simplified church structure by-laws template from the Indiana Conference

From the 2016 Book of Discipline – Alternative Structure  ¶ 247.2

The charge conference, the district superintendent, and the pastor, when a pastor has been appointed, shall organize and administer the pastoral charge and churches according to the policies and plans herein set forth.  When the membership size, program scope, mission resources, or other circumstances so require, the church conference may, in consultation with and upon the approval of the district superintendent, modify the organizational plans, provided that the provisions of ¶ 243 are observed.

Churches are encouraged to develop a church management structure that best serves the mission and ministry of the congregation in accordance with the Book of Discipline and in conversation with the people of the church and your district superintendent. Many of our churches have been in this process and are seeing the rewards of a streamlined structure.


More Resources

The following list was published by the Arkansas Annual Conference and is used with permission.

Simplified, Accountable Leadership Workbook
This 30-page workbook will take your team through every step of discussing and creating a new leadership structure in your church. This 10-step book contains diagrams of administrative structures, a sample agenda, a questions for your board to use for discussion along the journey. This workbook is based primarily upon the work of Kay Kotan (author of the simplified structure book Mission Possible) and also uses information found in Dan Hotchkiss’s excellent Governance and Ministry). 

General Information 
This quick summary guides church leaders as they consider shifting from the standard United Methodist Church’s structure that include an administrative board, council on ministries, finance committee, board of trustees, and S/PPRC, to a new “leadership council” or “single board” alternative structure comprised of anywhere from 9-15 members. Different roles and guidelines are explained.

Step by Step: Moving Toward Simplified Structure  
A short seven-step list for congregational leaders contemplating changing to simplified, accountable leadership structure. This single-page list is perfect to introduce the topic of transition.

Simplified Structure FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
This short list of FAQs answers common questions that United Methodist leaders have about the simplified or “single board” administrative structure. You may also scroll down to see the list online.

Sample agenda (annotated) for your board
Create a leadership council agenda based on the L3 (loving, learning, and leading) model used throughout the Arkansas Conference. This sample agenda is built primarily upon the work of Kay Kotan (author of the simplified structure book Mission Possible) and also uses information found in Dan Hotchkiss’s excellent Governance and Ministry). The sample agenda also provides a suggested list of items to include in a board’s “Leadership Packet.”

Six Training Videos from Kay Kotan
Kay Kotan, a layperson and the director of congregational development from the Susquehanna (Pennsylvania) Annual Conference has created an 25-minute overview video and six training videos that you can stream online or download for viewing during meetings. Before you move toward the model, it is suggested that you forward the overview video to all your current board members.

Staff/Pastor Parish Committee (S/PPRC) Annual Timeline  
This timeline shares expectations for the appointment/assessment cycle and suggested topics of discussion for a full year of monthly staff/pastor parish relations committee meetings. Whether your simplified structure single-board serves as the congregation’s S/PPRC or you decide to keep a separate S/PPRC, your board will need to consider due dates and the workload of the S/PPRC as you design your yearly schedule and content of meetings. 

Video: Kay Kotan Addresses Simplified Structure 
Kay Kotan of the of Susquehanna Annual Conference speaks about the simplified structure.


If your church, network or district would like coaching or training on restructuring the committees into a simplified board model, contact your district superintendent.

The congregational excellence staff assigned to your district will be glad to assist you with further resources.