This piece is part four of a six-part commentary on the restructuring process.
Stage Three: Developing Recommendations and Options
Stage Four: The Second Consultation with Church-wide Groups
The CCMS and the Synod’s BOD will use results gathered so far to develop recommendations that will be used for a second major consultation with all LCC members. CCMS representatives and the consultant will then meet with all District boards, seminaries, LFM, conferences, circuits, and other ad hoc gatherings of interested members to discuss and refine the opinions of the proposed new church structure.
This is basically a repeat of Stage One and Stage Two, with the same issues and opportunities. Since there’ll be a concrete proposal on the table, I expect these meetings will attract more interest than the Stage Two meetings. Notably absent in Stage Four is Stage Two’s online discussion opportunities.
The result of these Stages will also measure how well the CCMS has listened to the church membership and is following their direction. If the result of this stage aligns with what the people have been saying, then confidence will be increased. If the result is completely disconnected from the membership’s input, then the church needs to decide what to do about the committee.
For the CCMs to sell the membership on the proposal generated at the end of this Stage, they will need to include the input they’ve received, the decisions they’ve made, why they made those decisions, and the implications of that particular course of action.
One question that must be addressed and definitively settled in any proposed structure is accountability – even a perfect structure is completely useless if the people responsible for implementing it fail to hold the membership accountable when they go astray. If there’s no way to hold every member to account for their actions without regard to position or popularity then this entire exercise will be for naught.
Stage Five: Final Recommendations for Structure and Documentation
The CCMS and Synod’s Board will review, discuss, and approve a final proposed structure. The entire Handbook will also be rewritten to implement the proposed structure to 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.
By Stage Five the proposed structure should be largely nailed down and any changes made by the CCMS / BOD should just be about tweaking the proposed structure to address corner cases and provide added clarification as needed. Any major changes proposed at this point in time should be looked at with extreme suspicion and put off until a later date for consideration.
The major risk of Stage Five is that the entire handbook will be re-written prior to voting on by the convention. Since the revised handbook will be the binding implementation of the proposed structure, the membership will need time to review the specific changes, agree that it is an accurate reflection of the proposed structure, and ensure that any difference between the proposed structure and the Handbook’s implementation is properly resolved.
Getting to this point in time for the Synod membership to review the handbook changes prior to the convention will be a significant challenge. If that goal cannot be accomplished then a vote on adopting the new handbook should be postponed to a later convention as it is significantly more important to get this done right than to meet an arbitrary deadline.