Monday, July 16, 2007

GEC Reorganization Report for the General Board June 2007

This is the unedited report from the GEC Writing Team that was Presented to the General Board during its June meeting. Obviously, a written handout which accompanies an oral report (like this one) is cryptic. I will make comments later.

GEC Writing Team Report
June 2007

In the fall of 2005, the General Executive Council committed themselves to examining ways of improving the ministry functioning of the denomination by surfacing and assessing potential modifications and renovations. In the spring of 2006, they identified four areas of concentration for potential transformation within the denomination, namely denominational leadership, denominational structure, representative process, and relevance to local congregations. In the fall of that year, they reviewed several proposals from GEC members. The proposals primarily focused upon the structure of the denomination and its representative process. The proposal below reflects the best of those proposals as well as the continued input and reflections of the GEC members who would now like your feedback on their current proposal.

The proposal contains several aims, including the following:
--We seek to enable quick responses to mission opportunities with a streamlined board structure.
--We seek to reduce costs of a representational system.
--We seek to resolve tension caused by wearing multiple board hats.
--We seek to create a mission venue that allows greater flexibility, networking, focus and accountability.

Eight criteria are currently being used to evaluate the model:
--Protect and secure the local church as the fundamental unit of mission by preserving historic Baptist freedoms and enacting a balance of autonomy and interdependence.
--Demonstrate respect for ethnic/ gender/ cultural/ theological/ generational diversity and inclusiveness in all processes and purposes.
--Increase the potential for fundraising through United Mission and other sources.
--Implement substantial cost reductions for General Board operations.
--Enable ABCUSA to establish, celebrate, implement and monitor outcomes of mission and ministry.
--Resolve the division over homosexuality or at least move the denomination forward on this issue.
--Provide for commitment to clear accountability, holding each other responsible for maintaining covenants.
--Provide central office functions for the denomination

Several organizational principles continue to energize and shape our thoughts:
--A GEC covenant was formed at the April 2007 meeting in Tucson, AZ…
“We covenant as GEC members to give due consideration to all ABC Policy Statements and Resolutions in recommending persons to serve at denominational levels.”

--The ABC might be best viewed as a federation of mission agencies…
“Linking together to provide enhanced services more efficiently and carry out programs of mutual interest such as finance, IT, training, insurance, travel, web, HR.”

--In order to achieve a set of diverse outcomes as contained in the eight criteria, the theory of simultaneous loose and tight connections can be employed in order to enhance stability and efficiency in some parts of the organization, while at the same time enhancing creativity and innovation in other parts…
1. Because tight connections lead to consistency, stability, clear expectations, accountability, and centralized decisions; they will be employed in such areas as brand management, assurances of boards remaining ABC, ABC broad priorities, identification of leadership needs, and benchmarks of organizational excellence.
2. Because loose connections lead to variability, innovation, creativity, empowerment, localized determination; they will be employed in such areas as providing resources for ministry, board member nomination and selection processes, local church priorities, leadership recruitment and development, methods of achieving organizational excellence.

Several current practices would end if this model were adopted, including:
--Legislation as a primary emphasis in our governance
--Large numbers in our board structures
--Inter-locking board structures

Several current practices would remain, including:
--ABC commitment to a gospel based mission
--ABC commitment to the local church
--Representation on the boards, although not in the same ways
--Commitment to support vital churches
--National Boards: NM and IM

Several practices would be added if this model were adopted, including:
--Missional Table
--Mission as the primary emphasis rather than legislation
--Smaller boards and greater use of technology to facilitate meetings resulting in reduced costs
--Ability to respond more quickly to missional opportunities
--Recruitment and development of a diverse leadership pool

The Mission Table would be chaired by the president of ABCUSA and have the following purpose:
--Leveraging resources for greater mission impact
--One proposal for the Mission Table is that it include representatives from local churches, the caucuses, BNM, BIM, MMBB, the AMO’s, the ABC Seminaries, and include the Regional Executive Ministers, totaling approximately 123 people.

The National Staff Leadership Council would be chaired by the General Secretary and would have the following purposes:
--Relationship Building
--Continuing Education for Executive Role
--Facilitate Implementation of Ideas from Mission Table
--Generate Proposals
--Denominational Functions as Assigned
--One proposal for the NSLC is that it include representatives from BNM, BIM, MMBB, the AMO’s, General Ministries, and include the Regional Executive Ministers, as well as a guest theologian, totaling approximately 58 people.

The Biennial meeting would be convened by the president of ABCUSA and would have the following purposes:
--Celebration of Mission
--Dynamic Preaching & Worship
--Showcase ABC Heroes
--Training, Education, Sharing Best Practices
--Theological Reflection on Important Issues
--Listening to Constituency
--Governance Tasks

A National Leader Development Pool would be formed with the following purpose:
--Identify present and emerging leaders for denominational service
--Develop leaders
--Maintain a database from which national and general boards may select members

The Board of General Ministries would be chaired by the president of ABCUSA and would have the following purposes:
--Official Spokesperson for denomination
--Legal Board for ABCUSA
--Calls General secretary
--Coordinates Branding
--Coordinates Fundraising
--Ecumenical Functions
--Ministerial Leadership
--Staffs Missional Table
--Supports Regional Ministries
--Maintains Perspective of and Serves the Whole ABC
--One proposal is that the BGM include the officers of ABCUSA, representatives from local churches, and members-at-large, totaling approximately 28 people.

The GEC is continuing to work on the following components and will meet again in December of 2007:
--A funding proposal to accompany the model, although the GEC is committed to ensuring that the model will incur less expense than the current model.
--Demonstrating how this model will enable increased relevance to the local congregation