The mission statement of a church states the bottom-line purpose for which it exists. St Paul’s exists To know Jesus, treasure Jesus and represent Jesus for God’s glory and the joy of all people. Our mission shapes our present and our future. It informs our strategy, goals, values, ministry practice, leadership and governance. It informs what I and the staff do day by day, and even how the Parish Council functions. This is important to think about as we move into an AGM and Parish Council elections this month.
Over the past couple of years I have been working with Parish Council in thinking about how our corporate mission impacts the way we lead and are led at St Paul’s. The goal is to ensure attention to our corporate mission, clearly defined roles and responsibilities and accountability to strategies and goals.
Historically, St Paul’s Parish Council has operated on the level of doing ministry at an operational level. Under this model, Parish Council are democratically elected representatives for a particular service or group within the church. As democratically elected ‘spokes-people’ they voice the needs and concerns of their ‘constituents’. The danger is that corporate mission can be lost to immediate concerns and agendas of individual groups.
The Parish Council is a legally obligatory governance body that comes as a consequence of membership with the Anglican Church of Australia. It is primarily a democratically elected group of members of the church. The role of Parish Council, however, is not clearly defined. There are some functions that are essential and cannot be altered. Interestingly, the majority of the roles of the Parish Council involve direction, compliance and consultation rather that direct decision making over issues of ministry and mission. Other aspects of their role are not so clear. This becomes increasingly complex for a church that is diverse and growing in membership. On the very practical level of governance here at St Paul’s we must be more concerned about developing effective strategies and structures than in perpetuating meetings, events, and traditions that do not contribute to us pursuing our corporate mission.
Over the past couple of years the staff and Parish Council have been shifting towards a governance model that sees us working together on pursuing Vision 2020. Parish Council now oversees the resourcing of Vision 2020 through finance, property and policy. The role of Parish Council is to set the policies that I, as Senior Minister, and the staff operate within. They then hold me accountable to achieving those policies.
This is a much bigger picture perspective than has traditionally existed within our Parish Council. It involves Parish Council separating from the intimate details of the management of the parish and focussing on resourcing the corporate mission and overall performance towards a set of corporate ministry goals. As the Senior Minister, I report each month on those corporate goals.
Much more can and will be written about this change in governance for St Paul’s. Needless to say I am so grateful for the Parish Council we’ve had in recent years. They have been working very hard on resourcing Vision 2020 and thinking about long term strategic initiatives (eg. property development and ICS). Please pray with me for a Parish Council that is prayerful, wise and courageous in making decisions that keep us pursuing our corporate mission.