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A Restructuring Roadmap: LCC seeks Structure for the Next Generation

January 11, 2016 2 Comments

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CANADA – The Synodical Handbook expresses part of the mandate of the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS): “In the area of structure, the Commission shall conduct a continuing review of the organizational structure of the Synod, including its districts and its circuits, and make proposals to succeeding Conventions for improvement.”

In response to resolutions in the last LCC Convention and all three District Conventions, the CCMS has engaged the consulting services of Dr. Les Stahlke, an LCC Pastor Emeritus and CEO of GovernanceMatters.com Inc.

Dr. Stahlke will facilitate the process by which the CCMS will collaboratively review and develop recommendations to revise our structure. He will not make the actual recommendations for change. Here is how he describes this process.

“The process will be based on the entire church working together in the mind of Christ by affirming the value of every opinion, involving lay members, pastors, and deacons from the beginning to the end, and demonstrating servant leadership in lifting one another up in service in our relationships.

A congregation is like a fruit-bearing tree. The members are its roots, the council its trunk, the committees its branches and its staff and volunteer members its leaves, producing the fruit of worship, fellowship, growth, mission and ministry. LCC is a large, complex orchard of trees which includes 300 congregations, districts, seminaries, and Lutheran Financial Ministries (LFM). This will be a roots-up process, involving the roots of every tree, not a top-down process. Collaboration takes time, and we will need the full two years that we have to develop a recommendation for the October 2017 Convention.”

The process will have seven stages. At its meeting on November 16, 2015, the CCMS approved this process and the two-year timeline that the consultant proposed.

Stage One: Church-wide Survey

At it’s meeting on January 14-15, 2016 the CCMS will discuss, modify, and approve a survey that the consultant develops from interviews with about two dozen past and present leaders of Synod and all three Districts. The survey will focus on the many relationships in the Synod, including the congregations, circuits, districts, synod, commissions and committees, president, vice-presidents, and officers, seminaries, and LFM. Changes to the structure within local congregations are not part of this structural revision.

CCMS will invite every adult layperson and every pastor and deacon to volunteer a full hour to complete this survey, with the ability to offer comments on every statement as well as general comments at the end. It will be available to be completed online and in print. We anticipate (and need) a minimum of 2,000 responses to provide a cross section of thoughts, feelings, and opinions on how authority should flow among the relationships within LCC. We anticipate more than 20 pages of comments giving reasons for the survey answers and adding colour to the results. The participation of LCC members is fundamental to the success of this entire process. The survey is not a polite courtesy to the church but rather a fundamental element of determining the future structure. The survey requires the time, involvement, and commitment of a large number of members who are affected by this process.

The participation of LCC members is fundamental to the success of this entire process. The survey is not a polite courtesy to the church but rather a fundamental element of determining the future structure.

This anonymous survey will invite you to share your position (lay, pastor, deacon), District, age range, gender, and length of LCC membership. The entire month of February will be devoted to completing the survey, with an expected completion date of February 29, 2016.

Stage Two: Feedback and Discussion

The CCMS will receive from the consultant a detailed analysis of survey results with tables, graphs, comments, observations, and options at its spring meeting. Then the consultant and others will share these results with circuits, conferences, and ad hoc regional gatherings, indicating the directions that respondents appear to prefer for the future structure of LCC. At these same gathering, we will harvest the opinions of everyone on the options that the survey seems to suggest. This discussion is as important to the next stage of the process as the survey results themselves.

Virtually all of this analysis will also be made available to every member of the Synod in electronic format (it will be far too voluminous for printing). Your views and your anonymous personal comments will be read by many others in our church. And you will be able to access the results and comments of others. Because of digital information sharing, there will be very little cost to sharing this information with everyone who wants it.

Stage Three: Developing Recommendations and Options

The CCMS will meet again to deliberate on the survey results and the fruit of the discussions held and documented across the church. Ideas and preferences expressed in Stages One and Two will shape the recommendations that the CCMS will develop for Stage Three, the second major consultation with members across the country. The CCMS, accountable to Synod’s Board of Directors between Conventions, will be working closely with Synod’s Board to prepare the recommendation for the proposed structure.

Stage Four: The Second Consultation with Church-wide Groups

Beginning with this stage, representatives of the CCMS and the consultant will meet with all other boards of the Districts, seminaries, and LFM to share and discuss the proposed recommendations and options for the revised structure. Representatives will also meet with conferences, circuits, and other ad hoc gatherings of interested members to discuss and refine the opinions for revising the structure within the church.

Stage Five: Final Recommendations for Structure and Documentation

The CCMS and Synod’s Board will review, discuss, and approve a final proposed structure. In order to fulfil the requirement of the Handbook for changes to the Constitution to be provided to delegates before the Convention, the entire Handbook will be rewritten to describe the propose structure of the many complex relationships within LCC. The consultant, working with legal counsel, will prepare this documentation for the CCMS and Synod’s Board of Directors for final review and approval for distribution to the delegates who will attend the 2017 Convention.

Stage Six: The 2017 LCC Convention

This collaborative and transparent process will bring to the Convention a Handbook that documents a revised structure that the Church itself has taken two years to consider and develop. There will be no surprises or any need for the “selling” of top-down ideas. The degree of debate will depend entirely on the degree of unity and consensus that emerges from the survey and long collaborative efforts at revising the structure for the next generation of the Church. Having been developed by the delegates and the members who elected them, we anticipate strong support for what the members of the Church themselves have prepared.

Stage Seven: Implementation and a Strategic Plan

The final stage is to initiate the changes that have been adopted by the Convention and documented in the Handbook. This stage will involve presentations, training, and decisions at every level of the Church, particularly in the District Conventions in 2018 and in the boardrooms of the Districts, seminaries, and LFM.

The Board of Directors already has the responsibility to develop a Strategic Plan for the Church. The revised structure will require a revised plan. The question that will find its answer in the Strategic Plan is, “What services shall the Synod provide for the congregations, the rest of Canada and the world and in what order of priority?” The consultant has been engaged to lead the Synod through the final strategic planning stage of this process.

Prayers Requested

The CCMS invites the prayers of the members in every congregation and at every level of authority in the Church that this process will reflect the mind of Christ in it’s affirmation, involvement, and servant leadership of one another, and that the structure developed by God’s people will be a blessing for another generation. May the Lord of the Church bless this careful, collaborative, transparent process with the success for which the entire Church has prayed.

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  • Jane Ford

    Thanks for starting this project. God leads as always.

  • Margaret Bylund Mairs

    This sounds so amazing to be a part of! Let us encourage our leaders and one another in the pew! Lets get this information filled out and sent in ASAP!!