governance_and_ministryCongregational governance is an art. Church leaders need to learn how to navigate the line between governance and ministry.  In other non-profits, there are different parties to consider:

  • The Board sets mission & vision, makes policy and assures fiduciary responsibility
  • The CEO and staff carry out the mission
  • The Donors help support the mission with their financial gifts
  • The Beneficiaries are the “object” of the non-profit’s mission

In the congregational world, members of the board don’t just govern, they are also donors and beneficiaries and–at times–staff (when they are also serving as part of a ministry such as being a worship associate or being a pastoral visitor). In other words, church governance is a little bit messy.

There is no one-size-fits-all kind of governance for congregations, but there are resources to help UU congregations navigate a governance change. One is the consultants at Unity Consulting, who have adapted John Carver’s Policy Governance® for congregations.

Another is Dan Hotchkiss, former Alban Institute consultant and UUA staff member, and the author of Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership.  Rev. Hotchkiss has just released a second edition of Governance and Ministry.  I had the opportunity to interview him about what he learned since writing the first edition, and about the significant changes compared to the first edition:


-Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, UUA Congregational Life Consultant

Additional resources mentioned in this blog and interview:


Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, Second Edition by Dan Hotchkiss

Mobilizing Congregations: How Teams Can Motivate Members and Get Things Done by John W. Wimberly Jr.

When Moses Meets Aaron: Staffing and Supervision in Large Congregations by Rev. Susan Beaumont and Gil Rendle


Your UUA Regional Staff

Congregational Consulting Group

Unity Consulting

About the Author
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
Leadership Development Consultant, Central East Regional Group (CERG) of the UUA. I have a vision of Unitarian Universalist congregations being led by thousands of diverse, spiritually mature and passionate people ready and willing to spread the good news of liberal religion.  I believe ministry is best when shared between lay and professional leaders. More information about me can be found on the UUA website.