WMLT — What about Bob?

Found on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog:

 

Since July 1 we have been using the name Restructuring Phase 2 to describe the work being done across the IC to put our new organizational structure to work. Bob Gleason, an independent consultant from Milwaukee, WI, will be working with us for the next few months as we transition to our new structure. Bob’s professional passion is organizational change management and he will be assisting us with process development, clarifying new roles and responsibilities and the communications aspects of the changes we are making. He will be leading the Phase 2 Restructuring Work Group through various tasks and working with other teams of people addressing the impact of restructuring. Already his help has made positive impact around the building.

Bob has spent 12 years with a business and technology consulting firm in Chicago before leaving to work independently. He prefers to work with faith based and not-for-profit organizations. He has worked extensively in the South Wisconsin District with President Wille’s staff and congregations in the District. He has been a leader in the congregational revitalization work in the District as well. He and his wife and two college-age children are members of Brookfield Lutheran Church, where he is a Bible study leader and Elder.

Bob welcomes any of your comments or questions you post to this blog regarding restructuring.

-Barb Below

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

WMLT — What about Bob? — 124 Comments

  1. @DA #100

    DA,

    Of course the consultants aren’t to blame. That’s my point. They are just doing what they do.

    The church that follows follows their siren call is to blame. Again, my point.

    TW

  2. @Todd Wilken #101

    TW,

    I understand your point, and we agree that consultants are not to blame. My question is WHY is the church following siren calls whatever they may be? Isn’t a church that is incapable of discerning siren calls (always there in one form or another) also incapable of effective leadership even without the use of consultants?

  3. @Todd Wilken #92

    > How did we get along without consultants [AND LAWYERS] before? What has changed about the LCMS that makes them indispensable now?

    An answer that comes to mind is ‘corporatism’. I hope this answer resonates somewhat with you. The MO synod has been a corporation since the 1890s. A corporation is a legal invention. It is a fake person. I believe this is a Western law concept that has had a big impact. Studying the history of the impact on church and society would be very interesting.

    I note without prejudice that the thing the anarchists in England and other places hate most clearly is the corporation. I don’t mean to imply that you are an anarchist. Maybe they are on to something. Maybe some of us (I do) get radicalized to some extent by unpleasant life experiences.

    It may be notable that one purpose of the legal invention was/is to assign legal and financial liability to something other than directly to a person or group of people. This seems to have the potential of some deep implications in terms of its impact on church groups (in this case, our church group).

    Sometimes your use of the the term LCMS Inc. has been astute. My concerns about this and other things have been 99% in terms of what outsiders see. I seem to have a different view of this aspect of what we say in public about our church body. And I have said a number of immoderate things. But this last topic is somewhat peripheral to the discussion.

  4. @Todd Wilken #101

    > Of course the consultants aren’t to blame. That’s my point.

    Thank you for clarifying this point.

    > The church that follows follows their siren call is to blame. Again, my point.

    The real siren call is from bad leaders inside the system, not work-for-hire lay people.

  5. @DA #102

    > incapable of effective leadership even without the use of consultants

    Bingo. And it is worse than that:

    One explicit reason ‘consultants’ are used is because the client can

    — take credit if the effort succeeds
    and
    — blame the consultant if the effort fails.

    If a corporation decides that this kind of hedge is worth money, they spend the money.

    And anyone who will work under such terms might feel that they deserve compensation for such an unrewarding deal.

  6. As usual, I have to thank Pastor McCain for bringing some positive comments to the conversation.

  7. @Todd Wilken #90

    Dear Pastor Wilken and BJS Bloggers,

    I wasn’t going to add anything to this post, but I see that Pastor Wilken has asked me some questions, so I guess I better reply.

    First, and foremost, I agree with Todd (comment #66) when he says, “I do see people (including myself) weary and suspicious of synodical dependence on consultants, and of the opaque corporate jargon and synodspeak [that] inevitably comes along with them.” I feel and think the same about this as Todd, and probably most of you. To deny that our church has been affected and afflicted by “church growth” consultants, “missional” rhetoric, corporate jargon, and synodspeak is to completely ignore the last thirty years of LCMS history.

    Second, I agree with MBW (comment #67) that it is unfair to judge a layman by what goes on at his church. If he is an LCMS member, that is good enough for me. I won’t use his congregation as a basis for judgment, since there are many reasons that laymen will not leave a congregation after changes have been imposed by heterodox pastors. On the other hand, I see a more direct correlation between what goes on at a congregation and the pastors who serve there – but Mr. Gleason is a layman.

    Third, I agree with MBW (comment #106), based on what I have seen in the LCMS, that consultants are OFTEN (but not ALWAYS) used so they can be blamed if the effort fails and the executives or officers can take credit if the effort succeeds.

    Fourth, we always need to keep in mind that the LCMS has a new president, which is a point a number of you have made on this post. It used to be (before the 2010 restructuring) that the LCMS President had very little actual executive power, but a whole lot of influence. Now he has both a whole lot of influence and a whole lot of power. The change in the presidency means that presidential actions may be similar to the predecessor’s (i.e., similar on the surface), but the results will be different because the guiding influence is different.

    Fifth, consultants, experts, temporary employees (whatever you want to call them) can be properly used and misused by an organization, whether it is a church or something else. Knowing how to filter out the consulting “quacks” is one of the higher arts of management, as well as knowing how to properly use a contracted consultant and knowing when you are getting “snowed” by his rhetoric. After all, Jesus warned us Christians about “shrewd operators” in Luke 16:8. I assume that the President’s office has done this filtering, since I know some of the people in that office, and they are as “sharp” as you can get.

    Sixth, I had to do some reassigning of jobs, on occasion, at CHI when I was director there. We only had five or six full-time employees, plus an equal number of part-time employees. Because of the contractual nature of employment, there is an involved and lengthy process for changing the work of any employee, as detailed in the Job Description, or similar documents. These are legal contracts, which means that if you confuse the work relationship, or use the contract to abuse an employee, or it is considered by the employee to be an abuse, then you can become liable in court for all sorts of things. It could also end up in the LCMS Dispute Resolution Process, depending on the type of employee involved. If you don’t believe me, talk to the LCMS Personnel Department (called the “Human Resources Department”).

    Now magnify that problem, and process, by four hundred employees (?current count?) – – and the president’s office needs help right now, I don’t care what you call it! They have my sympathy!

    This just proves that, often, the synod passes in convention things that look simple on the surface, but are infinitely complex or way beyond budget in real practice. Yet I agree with the solid fact that drove the restructuring, namely, that the national bureaucracy was too big for its budget.

    Finally, “Yes, Todd, we may have to use consultants on occasion.” I believe this is the right occasion, and hopefully this is the right guy.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  8. So the best construction on this is to pray for Mr. Gleason’s efforts as he leads the restructuring and keep a careful eye on his (and everyone else’s) work in order that they be held accountable.

    A good measure of Mr. Gleason’s success would be if, as a result of his efforts, the LCMS never has to hire another consultant. In other words, the restructuring is successful at freeing synod leaders to focus on supporting congregations, pastors and missions without the constant distraction of “structure.”

    Should Mr. Gleason accomplish that in such a fractious organization, I will be the first to sing his praises as a consultant.

  9. @Martin R. Noland #109

    > Because of the contractual nature of employment, there is an involved and lengthy process for changing the work of any employee, as detailed in the Job Description, or similar documents. These are legal contracts, which means that if you confuse the work relationship, or use the contract to abuse an employee, or it is considered by the employee to be an abuse, then you can become liable in court for all sorts of things.

    Statements of Work written for small consultants give nearly every legal advantage to the client. The client is able to terminate the relationship very easily. This, plus uncertainty in predicting workloads and budgets longer than, say, a year; try-before-you-buy (hire) practices; and truly specialized consulting skills, all are appealing to clients.

    It is very easy to cut a consultant loose, and hard to cut an employee loose.

    The hourly rate to a consultant is higher, sometimes a lot higher, than it is to an employee. But the consultant has to pay all of his own costs — both sides of social security, medicare, medicaid (15% total), health insurance ($3000 a month for a family is not atypical), retirement (what retirement?), Errors and Omissions insurance, travel, and other costs. The consultant has to pay for all of his own training and has considerable periods when he cannot bill.

    So, there usually ends up being some rough ratio between consultants and employees.

    Having said all that, I do not have any doubt that, since a fool and his money are soon parted, if a church body starts with a heresy (CGM, grandfather-is-irrelevant, other) it will find a “consultant” to take its money.

    I hope Bob (above) gets some good referrals from his very nice picture here. Maybe any publicity is good publicity!?!?!?!

  10. Martin R. Noland :
    @Todd Wilken #90
    First, and foremost, I agree with Todd (comment #66) when he says, “I do see people (including myself) weary and suspicious of synodical dependence on consultants, and of the opaque corporate jargon and synodspeak [that] inevitably comes along with them.” I feel and think the same about this as Todd, and probably most of you. To deny that our church has been affected and afflicted by “church growth” consultants, “missional” rhetoric, corporate jargon, and synodspeak is to completely ignore the last thirty years of LCMS history.

    Just a question: Is there something wrong with the word “missional” or does this refer to some meaning of “missional”? In other words, should I avoid using this word for some reason? And if so, how do I express that some activity is worthwhile for mission outreach? Thanks.

  11. There is missiological. Or one might use missionalistic, missionalarious, missionalational, missionacious, missionalogical, missionating, missionistic, missioniful, missionomenal, missiodacious, or missionarial.

  12. Carl Vehse :
    There is missiological. Or one might use missionalistic, missionalarious, missionalational, missionacious, missionalogical, missionating, missionistic, missioniful, missionomenal, missiodacious, or missionarial.

    I’m afraid your sarcasm is not very helpful.

  13. @Larry Kleinschmidt #112
    I’m not speaking on behalf of Dr. Noland, but I’d like to pose this following questions:
    What does “MISSIONAL” even mean? When did it enter our lexicon? In it anything other than more spurrious consultant-spreak, anyway? How did the church express “that some activity is worthwhile for mission outreach” during its first two millenia before some clever fellow coined the phrase? Did it even recognise the the need to “express that some activity is worthwhile for mission outreach”? If not, how come?

    Personally, I think the word in and of itself, may wrong, if it represents a shift in focus to something that didn’t exist in our church before, such that it required the creation of a new word to define it. I don’t know, I’m just sayin…

    Eric Ramer

  14. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #68 , @Rev. Paul T. McCain #70 and elsewhere

    SNARK ALERT!! SARCASM TO FOLLW!!:

    Holy Hyperbole, Batman!

    “absolute worst case scenario commenting, savaging the Harrison administration,” “pit bull,” and “judge-jury-executioner” comments?

    REALLY? Ribbing? Yes (let’s face it, a corporate consultant named Bob is a delicious irony). Warned about the fly-paper like nature of working with consultants? Yes. Perhaps good-naturedly cuffed like one would his brother, best friend or teenage son? Possibly. Savaged? I think not. There is nothing in the preceding comments relating to Pr. Harrison that any reasonable person can point to that would leave him or his administration rhetorically lying bloody alongside the road needing the assistance of a good Samaritan, as the word “SAVAGED” would imply.

    It’s pretty hard to take such comments seriously when they are so consistently over the top, especially when they are accompanied by such a friendly, smiling, avatar… Mister when you say that smile! 🙂

    I’m pretty sure Pr. Harrison is well liked and respected by the majority of the readers and commenter’s here. He doesn’t need a Chris Crocker in the IC to defend him here. LEAVE… MATT… ALONE!!!

    Bless your heart’
    Eric Ramer

  15. @Larry Kleinschmidt #112

    Dear Mr. Kleinschmidt,

    Thanks for the question about the term “missional.” There is an excellent LOGIA article by Dr. Ken Schurb precisely on this subject: “Missional? The Church in Luther’s Large Catechism.” That is in LOGIA Volume 18 #1 (Epiphany 2009). You can download the issue with that article here:

    http://www.shop.logia.org/category.sc?categoryId=41

    I will let Dr. Schurb speak for himself on this matter. He has, by the way, just published an excellent Bible Study in the LIFELIGHT series titled “The Christian’s Mission” that probably has some things also to say on the subject in a positive way. Arriving in the mail yesterday also is his article in the CONCORDIA JOURNAL 37 #3 (Summer 2011) “Was Walther a Waltherian?”

    My opinion is that no term is, in and of itself “wrong,” unless it is in some sense maledictory. The real question is “What sort of baggage comes with the term?” That is the question that Dr. Schurb addresses superbly for the term “missional.”

    I remember, many years ago, while participating in a Bible class that one of the members said the Bible was “mythical.” I asked her what she meant by that. She said something like, “Well . . . everybody knows that the Bible stories have a narrative quality to them, or they wouldn’t be stories. And because they are set in ancient times, they are mythical.” I asked whether they really happened, and she refused to answer. I then advised the group that many Liberal Protesant theologians (Bultmann, et.al.) use the term “myth” for the Bible to mean that it’s stories didn’t really happen, and this has become common parlance in the many large church-bodies affected by this theology. If you use the term “myth,” in the present context, you MEAN that they didn’t really happen, even though the term “myth” can have other meanings.

    So the real question, then, is “What do people mean when they use the term ‘missional’?” I don’t know. I don’t use the term, because it is ambiguous, is trendy and hip, and is usually used in a pejorative way. There are better terms that are not ambiguous, are established by long use, and have no pejorative use. But see Schurb for more on that . . .

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  16. #116: “He [President Harrison] doesn’t need a Chris Crocker in the IC to defend him here.”

    ROTFL.

  17. The interesting thing about this whole topic is that we are being told about this consultant! (The same is true on another thread, and I’ll say so.)

    Let’s hope everything will be done in the light of day!
    [We may even find out at the end of the job, what he has cost!!]

  18. I would hope that many will recognize the “over the top” response to the announcement, as Helen wisely points out, a public announcement, about a consultant. In spite of the excellent explanation provided by the LCMS President’s Office and in spite of the commendatory comments made by a couple pastors who actually *know* the man and are aware of how much help he was to the South Wisconsin District, there were a number of people here who chose instead to hammer away on this issue and make a whole host of irresponsible generalizations and frankly quite uninformed remarks about the role and place of consultants.

    This conversation has been example of the very thing I’ve lamented about BJS: the level to which there is this “chum the water” approach to every issue and a waterfall effect of ever increasingly irresponsible comments and statements.

    I raise this as a concern.

    One wag put it this way, “Geesh, with ‘friends’ like this, the Harrison administration hardly needs any enemies.”

    Something to consider? I think so brothers and sisters. I think so.

  19. Rev. Paul T. McCain :One wag put it this way, “Geesh, with ‘friends’ like this, the Harrison administration hardly needs any enemies.”
    Something to consider? I think so brothers and sisters. I think so.

    Pr. McCain:

    What kind or friends does Pr. Harrison need? I wouldn’t presume to speak on his behalf there, but I’ll tell you the kind of friend I prefer and strive to be… One who will say what needs to be said, to my/their face, rather than pave the road to destruction with flattery or one who lets me/them fail because it just wasn’t nice to point out pitfalls and stumbling blocks that lay in the path.

    Pr. Harrison has plenty of enemies that will damn him with faint praise, blind him with plattery and “nice” him in the back. I’d hate to find that shoe fitting my foot. How about you? Honey may be sweet, but if you smear someone with it, pretty soon they’r covered in dirt and attracting flies.

    Pr. Harrison is a good man, and I agree with Helen that it’s a nice change at the IC that he’s being so open and forthright in informing us of the actions his administration are taking. Even so, the most loving thin we can do as his friends is to help him “keep it real”, so to speak.

    Eric Ramer

  20. Eric, “saying what needs to be said” … that is one thing. Saying what has been said here, is quite another. I hope you will come to see the difference.

  21. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #122
    Pr. McCain:

    I completely disagree. I can’t know what informs the words of any other poster on this list. Unless I know that what they say is a lie, deliberately pejorative in a manner that is uncivil and socially unacceptable FOR THIS TYPE OF FORUM, (that is to say, this is not ladies tea, it isn’t the church sanctuary, and it isn’t a tavern either), then we’re obliged to put the best construction on what we read here, thicken our skin, and develop a sense of humor and accept that it is offered for our benefit, like it or not.

    I don’t think we have any business engaging in “school-marmery” (I think I might have just made that word up). I wouldn’t presume to be be bringin that week *stuff* onto this playground. 🙂 THATS all I’m sayin’, if ya think aboudit….

    Eric Ramer

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