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To Realign the National Synod Ministries Around Two Mission Boards
The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG) in its early work during 2005-06 asked church leaders what in the current Synod structure is “broken”. Among the many answers (some of which are enumerated in the “Final Report” on page 2) were concerns that the structure of the national Synod has evolved over the years into a complex and inefficient system that is perceived as unresponsive to the needs of the congregations.
Certain mission and ministry emphases, programs and services provided by the national office (often required by the Synod’s Bylaws) are redundant in light of programs and services offered by others at the national and/or district levels, or by a variety of the Synod’s recognized service organizations (RSOs), parachurch organizations, and others. Other programs and services may be completely unnecessary. In either case, the result is poor stewardship of human and fiscal resources. Congregational involvement in national office goals is not always direct or clear. The current program board and commission structure lacks accountability and is expensive to fund. At the 2007 national convention, the Synod’s Treasurer warned that the national structure could no longer be fiscally supported. In this past triennium the national office staff has been significantly reduced, salary increases have been set aside, a voluntary retirement incentive was put in place, and still the financial reserves of the Synod have been depleted.
Seven program boards and six commissionsâ€”most with staffâ€”carry out independent responsibilities as dictated by the Synod’s Bylaws. Over the years, conventions have modified board and commission responsibilities. This has helped to make boards and commissions accountable to the national convention but not to one another. The effect today is that the national office operates to some extent as a series of “silos.” Though the boards and commissions and their staffs have worked hard to coordinate their work, particularly in recent years, the current framework of structure and governance lacks accountability to the express current dictates and needs of the Synod’s congregations. Finally, the “siloed” setup of the boards and commissions creates complications in business oversight and legal compliance. The current operational structure of the Synod’s boards and commissions and the relationship of staff coordination and accountability begs for improvement.
The BRTFSSG has studied and reviewed the structure of the Synod and sought to develop principles and structures that enhance the ability of the Synod to carry out mission and ministry tasks that Christ has given to His church. “Mission” is the work Christ has given His church, and “Ministry” is how His church does that mission. Thus, BRTFSSG recommendation #18 seeks to sharpen the Synod’s focus on mission and ministry in ways that help us remember who we are and what we are as we walk forward together in response to Christ’s call. So that we most effectively serve that mission, the following resolution advocating the realignment of the national office and its relationship to congregations is offered.
WHEREAS, During the Synod’s 163-year history, it has on many occasions evaluated and adjusted its national operations and their relationship to districts, circuits, and congregations; and
WHEREAS, As the Synod grew, it was necessary to implement additional systems of operations, accountability, and organization; and
WHEREAS, Occasionally the Synod in convention implemented changes to its national operations structure in order to address specific issues; however, it did so without realizing the effect on the whole; and
WHEREAS, With significantly diminishing unrestricted funds at the national level, there is a need to “right-size” national operations in a way similar to what many districts, congregations, schools, and family households have done to adjust the size of operations to fiscal realities; and
WHEREAS, At the 2009 district conventions, more than 7,000 survey respondents (approximately 70 percent) agreed that there is a need to realign national office operations, and during the regional gatherings of delegates survey respondents also agreed (50 to 75 percent), only raising caution with the concept of creating “advisory commissions”; and
WHEREAS, After years of study, now is the time to realign the national operations of the Synod for the sake both of its MISSION effectiveness and faithful STEWARDSHIP of the gifts of God to His church; therefore be it
Resolved, That current bylaw responsibilities for the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) and for the Commission on Doctrinal Review be retained. The Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) will continue to be responsible for interpreting the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod, while the Commission on Handbook (COH) (presently called the Commission on Structure) will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance and management of the Handbook and for making recommendations to the convention for modification of the same, the process of appointing the COH following the process used to appoint the CCM; and be it further
Resolved, That the national office operations be realigned so that
(a) the existing program boards and some staffed commissions are eliminated; (b) all staff performing functions ultimately assigned to the national office are accountable to an officer of the organization, with the exception of the CTCR; and (c) functions currently performed by the program boards and staffed commissions, with the exception of the CTCR, be realigned into a new two-office ministry structure or assigned to the Office of the President, the LCMS Board of Directors, districts, or other LCMS agencies; and be it further
Resolved, That the title “Vice-President–Financeâ€”Treasurer” used in current governing documents be replaced with the title “Chief Financial Officer,” this position now to be appointed by the Board of Directors of the Synod after consultation with and with the concurrence of the President of the Synod. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will serve a four-year renewable term of office at the direction of the Board of Directors; and be it further
Resolved, That a Chief Mission Officer (CMO) position reporting to the Synod President be created by bylaw, to be responsible for supervising the day-to-day activities of the ministry functions of the national office. This position will be appointed by the President of the Synod with the mutual concurrence of the Board of Directors. The CMO will serve a four-year renewable term of office at the direction of the President of the Synod. The CMO, the CFO, and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be expected to work closely together in carrying out the programmatic, administrative, and financial functions of the national office in response to the Synod emphases selected by the national convention; and be it further
Resolved, That an Office of National Mission be responsible for coordinating national office ministry that is directed toward or serving domestic ministries and especially congregations and schools through their districts. Such ministries may include but not be limited to Lutheran school ministries and accreditation, human care and domestic mercy efforts, stewardship, evangelism, church planting and revitalization, and youth ministry; and be it further
Resolved, That an Office of International Mission be established to oversee the work of the LCMS in other countries. This office, among other functions, would place and support foreign missionaries, establish and maintain international schools, coordinate international relief efforts, and support and encourage the work of the Synod’s international partner churches in conjunction with the Office of the President; and be it further
Resolved, That these offices each have staff reporting to the CMO, who is accountable to the President of the Synod; and be it further
Resolved, That each of these two offices and their staff function under policies developed by two new mission boards: (1) Board for National Mission; and (2) Board for International Mission. These policies will establish boundaries, parameters, and principles that guide the respective mission office in determining present and future activities and programs. The mission boards will have oversight of the implementation of these policies, while the President of the Synod will be responsible for supervising the implementation of mission board policies in accordance with his responsibilities under Constitution Art. XI and Bylaws 126.96.36.199.1–188.8.131.52; and be it further
Resolved, That the President’s Office (through the CMO) coordinate communication and public relations functions as well as fundraising activities; and be it further
Resolved, That the President’s Office (through the CMO) and the seminary boards of regents provide leadership and coordination of seminary pastoral formation; and be it further
Resolved, That the President’s Office (through the CMO) provide leadership and coordination for pre-seminary and post-seminary pastoral formation; and be it further
Resolved, That the functions of the former Board for University Education (BUE) be distributed to the Concordia University System (to be retained as a Synod-wide corporate entity), the various university boards of regents, and the LCMS Board of Directors; and be it further
Resolved, That due to the significant impact of these decisions and with the understanding that for “decency and order,” care be taken that the implementation of these actions not bring undue hardship on ministry and personnel charged with these national operations. A “transition team” will immediately be put together by the President of the Synod in consultation with the Board of Directors and the Council of Presidents; and be it finally
Resolved, That to accomplish this realignment, the pertinent bylaws be amended as shown (“2007 Handbook Conventions Version”) as follows:
(table easier to see in the Today’s Business, page 142.)