Over the past twenty years my experience and competence as an administrator has grown. Beginning with my work in Frederick, MD I have had extensive experience leading the ministry of a mid-size church. I have led or consulted with congregations moving through a variety of governance styles and sizes from the small pastoral church to the program church to churches working in policy governance. In my years serving the Frederick congregation they moved through two of these size changes and at the time of my departure in 2005 were well on their way to embracing an adapted form of policy governance.
When I was called to Pacific Unitarian Church in 2005 I had a clear mandate to move the governance style from programmatic and into policy governance. We have spent the last three years studying and adapting policy governance to meet the needs of a congregation moving from mid-size I to mid-size II size. The transition is now complete. I serve as the chief operating officer of the church and chief of staff. In this role, I am responsible for all programs and ministries of the church and direct my staff to work with teams and committees to fulfill our yearly strategic plan goals and overall vision of the church. Financial oversight is under the treasurer and the Board of Trustees. In actuality, I serve as the CEO of the church and have the capability to manage that role within the context of policy governance. As the policy governance model implies, the larger the church the more the need for centralized fiduciary control. Since I strongly believe in congregational polity, I insist that the board and the congregation retain fiduciary and policy oversight towards the ends of the congregation’s mission and vision. My job as the lead minister is to inspire a vision, consult on policy and implement the plan of the congregation.
I take a strong team approach to staff relations; seeing myself as a “first among equals”. I have found that this collaborative approach works best in the long run, assuming that the professional staff is capable and motivated. I hold weekly staff meetings with an agenda focused on the issues before us as well as regular reviews of our budgets and plan.
My leadership style is to “empower and entrust”. This means that I meet regularly with the professional staff individually to review their working goals and performance. With the right people in those positions, I can then empower them to fulfill their responsibilities and defer to them when appropriate (e.g. the Music Director has complete authority over the music program on Sunday and at other times and I rarely interject a change that isn’t a part of our overall plan). It has been my practice for many years to conduct yearly performance reviews in which we review goals achieved and areas needing attention. That formal review is then forwarded to the Board of Trustees along with my recommendations on compensation and benefits in early spring. My performance is reviewed by the Committee on Shared Ministry who reports to the Board.
Since my previous career was in business I have had a great deal of experience working with budgets. I understand both line item and program budgeting. I have led pledge drives as a lay person and have consulted with many congregations as a minister. I do not join or pledge to the congregations I serve (although Francis often does). I am willing and able to participate in asking for gifts from the congregation’s lead givers but I do not act as a pledge chair or visiting steward.
My more recent experience serving on the Annual Program Fund of the UUA as the Pacific Southwest District Representative has deepened this experience. In this role I worked directly with congregations across the district helping them achieve fair share levels and overall financial stability. The UUA has afforded me extensive training in this regard. I consider stewardship and fundraising to be one of my strongest skill sets. I have knowledge of many kinds of stewardship strategies including every member canvas, group and lead giving, planned giving, miracle Sundays, auctions, scrip programs, corporate matching grants, on-line pledging, grant writing, and capital campaigns. I was a part of the multi-million dollar new building campaign in Frederick and helped to shepard a doubling of our operating budget in my current church in spite of a deep recession. My current church is in the midst of a three year capital campaign to renovate and rebrand our campus fueled, in part, by a matching grant from a local UU foundation.
I believe that healthy giving is the sign of a healthy church. When people feel the energy of the Spirit moving through their community and there is financial transparency, the church will prosper. People want to give to the place which gives them their comfort and meaning. I believe in speaking openly and honestly to the congregation about their responsibility to give generously of their “time, talent and treasure”. Part of that philosophy is an integrated leadership development program in which leaders are cultivated and called upon to serve. This is often one of the greatest challenges for a congregation; too few people doing too much of the work. While some will always do more than others, it is important to have a system by which talent can be identified and invited into leadership with regular training and recognition. It is very important to me that we appropriately thank our leaders and invest new leaders formally.
I will offer my strength as a visionary to the future of the church, careful not to be too far ahead of my people. I will offer my leadership from the pulpit and elsewhere in stewardship of our precious resources.
Finally, I never forget that the vast majority of our mission is accomplished with dedicated volunteers. In this way, my leadership is never “corporate” but rather distinctly collaborative. People are the reason we exist and people are what keeps us moving forward in spirit and hope.