Q&A on Restructuring and the First 100 Days of a New LCMS President
These questions were among those submitted by employees of the International Center and answered at a series of employee forums by President Harrison on November 8-10, 2010.
What’s the status of the hiring of a Chief Mssion Officer and the Chief Financial Officer?
The call for nominations for the CMO was issued from the Office of the President with a deadline to submit names to be nominated by December 31. We are encouraged by the many nominations for the CMO position that we have received. We are working on finalizing the timeline for conducting the reviews of the applications and interviews of nominees in January. The bylaws require that the President appoint the CMO after consultation with the Board for National Mission, and with the mutual concurrence of the LCMS Board of Directors. We are hoping that recommendations for a CMO will be ready for discussion at the board meetings in February 2011.
Will there be more position eliminations at the International Center? If so, when and how many?
There is more evaluation and financial analysis that needs to occur regarding how the national office can best be structured for the future. It is possible that there will be more positions impacted, but we are hoping that if positions are eliminated, it will be as few as possible. We desire at every opportunity to be good stewards of the gifts given to us through generous donors and supporters. I know that our donors desire for our good work to continue, and we will seek every possible way for that to happen. We thank each of our donors for their support for our continued work.
Given that the November Reporter story noted that giving has increased, what implication does this have for the Synod’s budget and for restructuring?
The Reporter article has to do with giving at the congregational level. As you know, unrestricted funding for the Synod flows up from congregations through the districts. Both congregational giving to districts and, as a result, district giving to Synod at the national level has been on a downward trend for many years, which is part of the reason for restructuring.
Is there a transition plan for picking up the work that was done by the people whose positions were eliminated? How will the work transition to the districts?
The leadership (e.g., district presidents, district execs, etc.) of those districts that have been impacted by the elimination of functions at the national office are being invited to collaborate with national office staff on workable solutions for the future. Other program areas of the national office, other individuals within the same department, or other partner entities related to the LCMS have already picked up some of the work that was being conducted by individuals in positions that were eliminated. We are appreciative of the cooperative attitude shown by so many who are committed to special areas of ministry and willingly advocate for and carry on the good work in many program areas.
What is the role of the National and International Mission Boards in restructuring?
These two boards will provide input, feedback, and consultation to the President and Transition Team regarding restructuring, but their role is primarily focused on establishing the policies by which the Offices of National and International Mission will conduct themselves. The boards make broad decisions regarding the program areas by establishing boundaries, parameters, and principles for the work of the two new offices.
Besides creating policy, what else do the two boards do?
The boards also participate with the President in setting goals and defining success for the two offices. While the boards have a relationship with the mission offices and provide oversight of the implementation of policies, it is the President and CMO who provide direction to the mission offices and supervise their day-to-day activities. The boards are not responsible for the specific programs, staff matters, or budgets related to the program areas like past boards have conducted their work. These issues, according to the new structure approved by Res. 8-08A, rest with the President. While we are waiting for the CMO to be selected, the President and his Executive Staff are responsible for all matters related to program areas (World Mission, World Relief and Human Care, school ministry, youth ministry, etc.) of the national office.
Will you bring back KFUO-FM and Issues, Etc.?
The transfer of the FM license is final. However, the station has been streaming classical music at www.classic99.com since the transfer took place. There are no specific plans for Issues, Etc. at this time, but all options remain on the table.
Absolutely not. The work of these ministries will continue. The goal is to streamline and eliminate redundancies, but these brands will continue and carry forward. Both brands have been successful fundraising tools for the national office, and over the last several years, both departments have brought in many new donors, supporters, volunteers, and advocates to the witness and mercy work of the church through the use of these two powerful brands. Restructuring work will look only for ways to enhance these brands and the ministries they represent.
How will communication efforts of the national office be included in the discussion of building a new structure that is leaner and brighter for the future?
The President’s Office has established a Restructuring Work Group (see page 1) that will work with the Transition Team to identify the ways in which the communication efforts of the Synod can be more focused, driven to a common goal, establish consistent messaging, and save money. Res. 8-08A identified that there is some duplication in communication efforts in the national office, and the Restructuring Work Group will be analyzing the communications that come out of the national office and identifying ways in which this can be done with the greatest value at the most reasonable cost. In addition to looking at current communication tools, the RWG will also make recommendations to the Transition Team about enhancing new communication options (such as increased use of video and social media) which the Synod has yet to fully develop and which could better enhance fund development efforts for program areas.
Is the new Witness, Mercy, Life Together logo now the new logo for the LCMS?
No, the burgundy, tripartite cross design remains the logo for the LCMS. Witness, Mercy, Life Together are the President’s emphasis for the work of the church and are used as the underpinning for the restructuring work to suggest a strategy for moving the church into the future. The Witness, Mercy, Life Together emphasis has already been widely received in the LCMS and is easily understood by both youth and adults. The logo is a tool that anyone can use when thinking about your district, congregation, school, or personal life. These are the three areas of the work of the church that are present in whatever the church does—proclaiming the Gospel, sharing Christ’s mercy with others, and living in fellowship with Christ and with one another.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the President’s first hundred days in the office?
Coming into the President’s Office has been like trying to drink from a fire hose. Despite having worked in the building for nearly a decade, there has been much to learn and become accustomed to in the President’s Office. Restructuring the national office is the most urgent work of the Synod, and it’s taking precedence over everything else that we do. In addition to the responsibility of restructuring, we are also trying to balance the scheduling demands required under the new structure for the Office the President, especially during this time when we do not yet have the CMO in place. We have a great team of administrative assistants and executive staff in the President’s Office who work hard to put all these components together. We have also been helped by the many talented laypersons and pastors throughout the Synod who have agreed to serve on various boards as the President’s representatives. God has blessed mightily, and it has been an incredible hundred days!
What has been the most surprising part of the first hundred days as President?
I would have to say it would be the overwhelming support and encouragement that has come from all parts of the world from all kinds of people who have been so kind and generous to me and the staff. So many people, whether district presidents or local pastors, have said, time and time again, we are praying for you. That is a strength to me during difficult days, and it greatly encourages me.
What do you like most about being President of the LCMS?
I really enjoy people coming into my office, sitting on the couch, and I in the leather chair, and then we talk. We call it the “living room.” It feels very much like inviting people into my home. It’s relaxed, and I find that we can have some of the most productive and enjoyable meetings sitting together and talking with folks who just want to see their church do well.
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