Pastoral Letter about Simplified Accountable Structrue

Dear Beech Grove Community,

In 2022, we discerned God’s vision for the community at Beech Grove. We heard God calling us to be a visible church without walls, strengthening our local community by connecting resources to needs through partnerships. In the past year and a half, we have done all we can to live into this vision as we live and serve all around us. However, in doing so, we have noticed several factors that often get in our way as we do this work.

While we have a wonderful body, willing to offer many gifts, we have noticed that many are tired and burnt out serving on the administrative side of church leadership. We have also seen a desire for ministry to truly be the focal point of our church, and to ensure the administrative side of the church is accountable to ensure the church has the resources to do ministry.

In consultation with the Church Council, we are entering a period of discernment for a new way of church leadership called The Simplified, Accountable Structure (SAS). This model offers an opportunity for us to place more of a focus and emphasis on the work we are doing to bear the fruits of God’s Kingdom. It places accountability on those who lead the administrative side of the church to ensure our ministries have the resources to do their work. It also gives the ministries accountability to lead as God calls them to without the overburdensome process of the administrative side of the church.

Over the past couple of months, I have collected together a discernment team (made up of Jason Bartholomew, Sydney Tabor, and Bette Moore) to help usher us through this process of how we might move forward. As we asked why we thought this move was worth considering the Discernment Team saw an opportunity for this church and its structure to work smarter, not harder.

SAS would place responsibility for ministry, the work of the people of the church, in the hands of the church’s people and seeks to streamline the administrative barriers often experienced through church polity structure. This would create a system of alignment around the missional focus of our church and a structure that is both accountable and adaptable to the needs of the Beech Grove Community as it enacts the vision God has for this church.

In this model, what is traditionally our Church Council, Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Finance Committee, and Board of Trustees, will be consolidated into one leadership board (Comprised of 9-13 people) tasked with the responsibility of the administrative side of the church. This Board would be responsible for listening to the people and groups of the church and aligning our ministries with our church’s vision. The Board, in empowering ministries to work within the vision would help to resource them to do the work Beech Grove has been called toward.

This would hopefully free up much of this work for a greater body to work more hands-on throughout the church and community. Once the board provides the resources, ministry groups are then empowered to do their work, and report to the board the outcomes, so that the board can continue to provide what is needed for ministry.

I understand that this is a very different model of leadership from how we have traditionally practiced church leadership. However, currently we are exploring how effective this model could be in this ministry context. I am sure you have lots of question about how this would look at Beech Grove, and that is why we want to take time to communicate the logistics and answer your questions before any decision is made. This is why we have entered a time of discernment and communication. Our discernment team will be making visits to several of our groups to help communicate and answer questions.

Do not be afraid to ask questions, to engage in conversation, and pray about the direction God is leading us. Before any change in leadership there will be both a Church Council vote and a Church Conference (a voting of all membership of Beech Grove) to adopt this leadership model. However, we also want to make sure everyone has the information to make the decision in the best interest of God’s vision for Beech Grove.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Andrew Ware
Pastor, Beech Grove UMC

For more information and a conscise explanation watch this video:

To be a visible church without walls; strengthening our local community
by connecting resources to needs through partnerships

Beech Grove UMC Vision