Structural Change and the Regional Conferences?

What will happen to the regional conferences? A little while ago I heard a rumor that the church was seeking to eliminate them. I don’t know how true that rumor is, but it is certainly plausible when looking at these possibilities for structural flexibility and realignment.

Any structure that touches the local conference will presumably affect the regional conferences. It is possible that in any structural realignment that we would simply remove them by default rather than address why they came into being and allow all sides to tell why or why they do not desire their continuance.

It may be easier to simply do away with the conference layer and never address the regional conferences directly, but that would probably leave a wound that would fester. I would hope that any plan to do away with the regional conferences would directly address these issues and not sidestep them.

I am all in favor of some sort of structural realignment. We have a bloated structure that needs some trimming in my opinion. I also think that we need to come together and talk about why we created these conferences and come up with a plan for when we will know they are no longer needed.

I don’t know if the regional conferences or any local conference is in jepardy today. But once again I thank the church for making all of these resources available on-line and I encourage all members to read and be informed. I could be wrong, but I think that some sort of structural flexibility will be more fully instituted very soon.

Are We Nearing Scturctural Change? – Options for Structural Flexibility

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.

Are We Nearing an Adventist Structural Change?

Harold Lee has a vision of how the church will look in 2025. You can find that post at the AdventistReview site. All of this information available on the web makes me wonder if we are nearing a proposed major structural change in the Advnetist church.

In another article, Less gives several proposals for restructuring the Adventist church.

The first of Lee’s proposals is the centralization of services. He notes that the technology that is available should reduce the amount of personnel needed for paperwork, accounting, and even mangement in our church. One wonders if much of the Secretary/Clerk work could be done by some excell macros.

Another proposal is the hiring of bi-vocational pastors. Lee notes that the Potomac Conference has 19 bi-vocational pastors right now. In this setup the church would give a stipend to a “part-time” pastor who would have other employment. My concern would be that we not expect that the bi-vocational pastor does as much as the full time pastors, but that concern does not do away with the validity of attempting such a change.

Lee also talks about creating resource centers. Becuase the internet has made it much easier to move information around, we can create websites and the like to help people with their problems. Instead of having a Stewardship director in every conference why not have a Stweardship resource center that would make pertinent information available on the topic to the world church?

Lee also speaks of networking ministries that are small and nimble that don’t have the encumbering components of a larger organization. He notes that the church should prmote such endevors.

Interestingly Lee notes that the NAD in 1995 voted to request that the union and the conferences restructure and cut out departments to save money. One wonders if this happens as more and more personnel are being hired by some conferences to work in their office.

An important idea of Lee is metropolitan area collaboration. Why would you have 3 adventist churches in 1 city with 3 pitiful community service programs when you could unify them and create a larger better one. It would require working together across churches and accross conferences.

There are a few more interesting ideas like direct delivery training where we train people through the web an the like. To put it bluntly, we cannot continue to do what we did.

We will continue looking at these subjects on the blog so stay tuned…