If you had half a million dollars, what would you do with it?

In my last post, I mentioned a “confidential” report that was commissioned in conjunction with the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance.

The “confidential” report is referenced on pages 17-19 of the Final BRTFSSG Report (PDF) that was released by President Kieschnick’s office last October.

The Task Force noted, “In July 2007, the task force engaged Bredholt & Co. and Epley Research & Consulting to gain a better understanding of the church body’s perceptions of the need for change— particularly in the areas of organizational development and process improvement. This study was in addition to research previously conducted by the task force.”

However, other than four recommendations listed in the Final BRTFSSG Report, no one other than President Kieschnick and the task force members had seen what the consultant had actually said. People familiar with the report say that it is not all favorable to President Kieschnick’s recommendations for the Synod. In fact, the consultant notes that some of President Kieschnick’s recommendations for the Synod are “wedge issues,” meaning that his recommendations are more likely to divide the Synod than unite it. I hope to report much more on this by this weekend.

I also managed to get a hold of the invoice for the special consultant (click here to see it for yourself). Synodical leadership spent nearly $500,000 for a 132-page report that provides recommendations (many of which President Kieschnick and his task force ignored) on how to “sell” the BRTFSSG to the Synod. President Kieschnick frequently talks about reducing waste and increasing efficiency for the sake of Missions. I agree with him about that need. I just don’t see how spending $500,000 on a confidential report in order to figure out how to sell an undesired change to Synod achieves that.

And, sad to say, this $500,000 doesn’t even count many of the other costs associated with the BRTF. The final report was produced by a different consultant, for instance. And there were how many regional district gatherings where delegates spent days being encouraged to accept these proposals? And then there were a few years worth of periodical meetings (including airfare and lodging) for just the members of the task force itself. They also hired another consultant to sort of develop the proposals and there was a lot of internal time spent at the International Center as well. I’m sure there are also untold expenses associated with campaigning for passage and selling the final proposals just at the national convention itself.

And now that they’re in the final push and have seen tremendous pushback from all these districts, circuits, boards and individual congregations, who knows what Kieschnick and Co. are spending on “toning down” the proposals and moderating them to make them seem more palatable (and, perhaps, save their own hides)?

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