At our last church council meeting I introduced some of my thinking about small church structure. My basic belief in all of this is that committees no longer work. At our congregation we have several standing committees. Some meet regularly as is proscribed by the constitution. Some never meet. Some talk on the phone and call it a meeting. Some meet when there is something important to do.
I think that the committee system as it stands is a holdover from structural ideas of a few decades ago. This model worked in the 1960s and 1970s (just like 8-track cassettes), but is not effective today especially for smaller congregations. Smaller congregations lose time in the committee system. That is, if you assume that the average member will designate an hour a week beyond Sunday worship (I know some of you offer much more.) it seems poor stewardship in a smaller church to spend those service hours on committee work. We need to spend the hours that we have on doing rather than talking about doing.
This is not to say that there should be no planning or discussion. It is to say that we should involve fewer people in planning and discussion and more people in physical ministry.
At my congregation on Cape Cod, we have the added issue that we are a small regional church. None of our members live with in walking distance from the church. Many don't live in the town in which the church building is located. This discourages multiple trips to the church building during the week which also makes a traditional committee system difficult to maintain.
My thoughts on this issue are continuing to evolve and I will post updates on this blog. However, my initial thinking is that we need a structure that is smaller and less formal. We need a structure that is Sunday-based. Finally, we need a structure that tends to be task-oriented as opposed to discussion-oriented.
I look forward to your comments and ideas and hope that this discussion might be helpful for other congregations who seek to do the mission of the Reign of God.