SAS Update

At Annual Conference this year, I was asked by Rev. Ed Fashbaugh, the East Ohio Director of Connectional Ministries, to share about how the Simplified Accountable Structure has impacted our church. I thought it might be helpful to share my reflection with our church community.

When Ed called me about sharing, it was an immediate “yes.” We just transitioned to this new model on January 1st of this year, and we are already seeing the benefits of having everyone around one table each month, fully focusing on not just the “work” of the church, but the mission and goals of our church.

In fact, the day Ed called, I had finished my report for Leadership Board. And in it, I wrote, I don’t have an update specific to our goals. I know that’s the important work to focus on, and yet I’m not sure how to dedicate more time when so much time/energy is being consumed by planning and preparing for Sundays, dealing with rental negotiations, staff needs, pastoral care, etc. I don’t say this as an excuse—I really want to figure out how to make “goal work” my main work.

That’s not anything I would’ve shared in our previous model—especially in such an intentional way.

It doesn’t have anything to do specifically with the building, so Trustees wouldn’t have concerned themselves with it.

It didn’t have to do with the bottom line or even really stewardship, so Finance wouldn’t have been inclined to dedicate time to it.

Our quarterly Church Council meetings were more focused on reviewing the work of the past rather than focusing forward.

I might’ve shared it with SPRC, but the conversation would’ve been more about helping me prioritize time, rather than how to prioritize the goals of the church in the work of the church.

Essentially, there was no meeting where time was devoted to the questions, “How are we working towards our goals?” “What do we need to do differently to live out our mission of creating safe spaces to grow with God and one another?”

Working with a team of leaders who are deeply committed to the overall mission of our church—not what they think is the most important work of the church, their favorite ministry, or “the event we’ve always done”—but where God is leading Brecksville UMC in the next year, 5 years, and 10 years—that’s been a game changer.

It’s no longer up to me and my awesome staff to lead the church into the future, but we’re teamed with a dedicated group of leaders from the congregation who are asking questions like, “What are the stories of how God has used our church community to impact people’s lives—both inside the church and outside?” “How do we need to re-prioritize our resources to focus on where God is calling us?”

When I shared with them that I didn’t focus on the goals that month, they affirmed that things needed to be re-prioritized so we will make steps—even small steps—toward our goals. And it led to a larger conversation about how we’re using our resources of staff, volunteers, and finances. Asking ourselves, “Is this a sign of larger changes that need made?”

It’s almost… Wesleyan: loving, grace-filled accountability focused on God’s leading. 10/10, would definitely recommend.

Rev. Heidi Welch, Senior Pastor