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Making It Work

Our new “governance” model at Forest Hill is now up and running. Hurray for those who participated in Celebration Sunday and signed up for a new commitment!
Why did we need a new structure? What are we trying to accomplish? With a smaller Council, doesn’t that mean even fewer people doing even more work?
Dan Hotchkiss is an author on one of the blogs to which I subscribe, and an expert whose research we used in designing our new model. He says that in the old days church was designed to prevent change because, when everything is going well, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In that system “seasoned clergy, long-tenured members, major contributors, and faithful volunteers” had veto power. Newcomers were taught how to do things the ”right” way, which was “the way we’ve always done it.”
But somewhere along the way in the last few decades, we began to realize that same old, same old, wasn’t working anymore. In that situation, a system that’s designed to preserve the status quo is one which ensures an organization’s demise. When decisions are made, circulated, argued, remade and recirculated, the very qualities needed for change, namely creativity and timeliness, are stifled. One chart suggested it took an average church 2 years to make a decision! If we didn’t change, we would die.
The church of the 21st Century needs to be purposeful and innovative and have a sense of urgency. Dan writes:
“A church that is uncertain why it exists … clings to whatever makes its members comfortable. But a church whose heart is seized by a compelling purpose sacrifices what is comfortable in favor of what works. To reach people different from the current membership [– what we have to do to grow], what works is to empower leaders to engage in purpose-driven trial and error.”
The church of the 21st Century needs to be purposeful and innovative and have a sense of urgency.
So, our new leadership style is one which encourages trial and error and is structured around our mission of “Celebrate God, Be in Community, Reach Out to Others”.
Another element of this new way of operating is that those who are working on a project make the decisions about it. This requires trust from the rest of us that the research and homework are done, budget accounted for, and timelines managed. Decision-making is streamlined and specific. The Unit Coordinators and Facilitators are there to help, advise, and support – but not to get in the way. There is room for initiatives and creative solutions, moving efficiently from imagination to implementation and respecting the wisdom of those who propose them.
What do you want to happen? What are your ideas? How are you going to step up?