Governance and Administration

Many congregations throughout the conference are recognizing the need to Shift their governance and administrative structures and approaches. Other congregations are looking for practical support in identifying policies and procedures, developing job descriptions for church staff and reviewing church by-laws and constitutions. We have begun the process of collecting resources in these areas and others related to church governance and administration. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to contact us (email, or call 608-846-7880) and let us know what you’d like to see here. If you have a resource to share or a story about how your church has shifted in this area of ministry, please contact

Governance and Administration Resources

NEW RESOURCE! Wisconsin churches shifting their governance structures

In December 2016, a group of congregations who are shifting their governance structures gathered online for a conversation. Kerri Parker, McFarland UCC, Greg Watling, First Congregational, New London and Steve Hirby, former Chair of the Wisconsin Conference Board of Directors shared their experience working with governance changes and recommended the resources that supported their work. They also shared information about the context in which they are making the changes with other meeting participants. If you are considering a shift in Governance, this meeting recording could be a valuable conversation starter and will provide some key learnings from those who have gone before you. Some of the key learnings gleaned from this call include:

  1. Trust between the pastor, congregational leaders, and the congregation is essential for exploring the shift in governance
  2. Moving toward a permission giving environment is a key component. A congregational structure that encourages new ideas and minimizes the barriers for experimentation will enable fresh approaches to ministry.
  3. Shifting a congregation’s governance structure is a multi-year process of trial and error as you learn what kind of structure will best work in your context.
  4. The pastor, congregational leaders, and the congregation must be willing to take risks and embrace failure along the way. What you learn from failure is important information for the future.
  5. Having support from an outside person (a coach for consultant ) can be useful. Contact the conference office for recommendations.

If you’d like to hear a recording of that conversation, please contact Tisha Brown and she will send it to you.

If you are considering a shift in your governance structure, here are a few other resources you might want to consider to guide your process.

Recommended Tools

McFarland UCC is sharing their Ministry Planning Tool.  This is the form that members of the congregation complete when they want to develop a new ministry in the life of their church.
Ministry Planning Tool (Word)
Ministry Planning Tool (PDF)

First Congregational UCC, New London offers their New Structure Vision document.  This document explains the congregational structure they developed to replace the traditional structure of boards and committees.
New Structure Vision (Word)
New Structure Vision (PDF)

Books, Articles & Websites

Guide to Good Governance” in the Parish Paper, March 2017—Volume 25, Number 3

 “Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership” by Dan Hotchkiss.  (Note: This is the governance model currently being used by the Wisconsin Conference Board of Directors)

Who is Robert? And Why Do We Follow His Rules, Anyway?”  Recommended by Kerri Parker and McFarland UCC, this article from Alban introduces a practice of spiritual discernment as an alternative to the use of Robert’s Rules of Order in meetings and congregational decisions.

 “Mobilizing Congregations: How Teams Can Motivate Members and Get Things Done” by John Wimberly Jr.  This is a highly recommended resource from the former Alban Institute.

 “Moving off the Map: A Field Guide to Changing the Congregation” by Thomas G. Bandy.  This book and others from Thomas G. Bandy are recommended by Greg Watling and the good folks at New London, UCC.

 The website from the United Church of Canada comes recommended by Steve Hirby, a former Chair of the Wisconsin Conference Board of Directors.  It is a treasure trove of resources on church governance.

 The “Parish Paper has many valuable articles on church management topics. Review the article archive here.

If you are aware of a great resource that isn’t listed here, please let us know.

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