October 30

Are We Nearing Scturctural Change? – Options for Structural Flexibility

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Today we continue our look at the documents provided by the Commission on Ministries, Services, and Structures.

At that site we see a document entitled: Principles, Possibilities, and Limits of Flexibility in the Design of Seventh-day Adventist Organizational Structure. I would encourage anyone who is interested to read the document.

In it we see 5 patterns of organization proposed. The authors of the document seem to want to allow flexibility in the world church structure so that in any area we could select one or another of these patterns that may be more helpful than our current structure.

For those who do not know, the current strcuture that is followed by most of the world church is a local church level. A number of local churches make up a local conference. A number of local conferences make up a union conference. These unions are adminstered under the General Conference by Divisions. Each of these levels has roughly the same number of personnel. So the local church has a religous liberty leader and the local conference and further up the chain.

Our current structure is pattern 1. A slight modification of this is described as pattern 2. In this structure we would cut out the number of departmental directors. Here the local conference ant he union conference would not necessarily have overlapping jobs. For example, if there is a youth department leader in the union conference the local conference would not have a full time youth department leader.

In Pattern 3 there would be a more extensive staffing modification. Here at the local conference level you would have a president and a very limited staff. The Treasurer work would be handled by the union treasurer. The Nowegian Union and the Japan Union use this pattern today.

Pattern 4 unifies the local conference and union conference level into one level that is sometimes called a “Union of Churches.” There are 6 of these unions of churches in the world church today. The authors of this document wish to see the union of churches model to be used more often in the world church.

Pattern 5 takes pattern 4 and creates district leaders who would supervise groups of local churches. A sixth alternative would be to combine various functions. An example of this might be the movement of religous liberty into a consolidated organization that many consituencies would use. A Seventh alternative would be to merge or reclassify organizations fo rthe express purpose of futhering ministry.

There are many options out there and we should consider them. It is my hope and prayer that the members of the local church will become aware of the things that are being discussed and will not be left in the dark. I thank the church for making these documents available for anyone to read. Now let us read them.

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