Posts tagged Restructuring

Together We Can

The concept is simple. By working together we can do more than we could do individually. This is the underlying concept in my family’s often used motto: “many hands make for light work.”

Lutheran Services in America has used this tagline for many years. Google “Together We Can” and you’ll find the tagline is used by many not-for-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and advocacy groups for fundraising campaigns, community events and other kinds of activities meant to bring people together around a common goal.

When President Harrison’s transition team first began its restructuring work, it felt to me like we stood looking at a huge mountain that needed to be moved. It is clear to me that the “critical moments” of the restructuring effort so far have happened when tasks, projects and goals were tackled by a group rather than the efforts of one person. The transition team, the Restructuring Work Group, the Change Network, the Administrative Team, the Operations Team, each department, various teams within the departments and all the participants in the National Mission Conference held in September 2011 are just a few of the examples of people joining together to solve a problem, consider next steps and “move the mountain” a few inches.

I ran across an older video on the Internet that is a great visual of the power of “Together We Can.”  “Together We Can” is powerful, proactive, inspiring, energizing and often absolutely mind blowing. Watch this video and see what these people did together.

-Barb Below

Restructuring Progress

Sample Org Chart

Thanks to everyone’s hard work, contributions and assistance, the restructuring process is moving along. After a year of highly detailed, broadly scoped, overall organizational change planning, we are moving to implement specific departmental plans focused around our new integrated approach to providing services to our districts, congregations and the Church at large. We are digging deep into each ministry and service unit work area to identify what is needed, what is working, what is not and what needs to be strengthened. Here are some highlights:

  • Positions descriptions for many staff members have been rewritten; although there are still a few  more to be completed.
  • A directory of employee functions has been developed. The directory provides an abbreviated description of the current job functions for each employee of the program areas along with his or her title, phone extension and email address.  This will help employees by clarifying each other’s roles and responsibilities and aid in getting work done.The valuable CNet (Change Network) group continues to meet and provide feedback and input to the restructuring process.
  • An internal Web page has been developed for employees that provides restructuring updates, information and resources.
  • The organizational chart was completed for the program areas, which includes the Office of National Mission, Office of International Mission, Pastoral Education, Communications and Fund Development.
  • The Communications department is finalizing its intake process for work assignments and projects that are requested of the department. This vital process will help to ensure  that employee effort and work are coordinated and completed as efficiently as possible.
  • During the recent LCEF Leadership Conference in Raleigh, N.C., the Office of International Mission gathered together its leadership staff  to discuss ways for working more closely together in the future. Agreements were made on roles and responsibilities in decision making and authority for program areas.
  • The Office of National Mission looks forward to a department planning retreat in December.
  • The Chart of Accounts has been completed. Testing and final revisions will be completed shortly.
  • Budget planning for 2013-2014 fiscal year is taking place under the new structure and with the new Chart of Accounts. The Office of International Mission is working to integrate the programs and budgets of the former LCMS World Mission and LCMS World Relief and Human Care departments into one budget with a focused effort on accomplishing unified goals.  Likewise, the Office of National Mission is integrating the budgets of the ministry units now gathered under its umbrella.  The Fund Development and Communications departments are outlining plans for working with the other program areas to meet the needs identified for the next year.
  • The timetable for budget development has been established and our new departments will use the new Chart of Accounts to create their budgets. We look forward in the new fiscal year to financial reporting that will list the following: Office of International Mission, Office of National Mission, Communications, Fund Development, Pastoral Education and other main categories.
  • We look forward to posting and filling several  key positions next year.
  • The Boards for National and International Mission are working hard to develop policies to guide the activities of their respective offices. Both boards’  policy sub-committees are working to draft these guidelines. Their meetings in September provided an opportunity to review many of the existing policies. More policies have been written and will be reviewed at their upcoming February  2012 meetings.
  • We look forward to the arrival of the Chief Mission Officer (CMO), Rev. Gregory Williamson. He arrives in St. Louis late this month and his first day at work is Jan 3.

There is plenty of other work going on related to restructuring but these are the highlights.

– Barb Below



Mann Musz Nicht…

Next Saturday, October 6 (German-American Day), brings to mind arguably the most important lesson I learned during my vicarage year, learned from an elderly pastor in the circuit. It is a single German proverb: Mann musz nicht nach jeder Fliege schlagen. “One should not swat at every fly.”

Applied to everyday life in close proximity with other human beings, the proverb renders daily service. Many are those times when, irritated by something or someone or other, grabbing the swatter can be tempting.  But so often it is best to allow little things to buzz on by, Christian love and generosity covering the multitude of little details and faults that will always be part of life together this side of heaven.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are times, of course, that require setting the proverb aside, those times when a pesky “Fliege” hovers, as it were, over the proverbial German potato salad on our plates, and “musz nicht schlagen” is not an option. Not all faults can be overlooked. Action sometimes is required.

There other times when attention to pesky little details, however intrusive they may seem, is required. We are, in fact, finding our way through such a time as a Synod following the 2010 convention. Much attention to detail is underway here in St. Louis at our Synod’s International Center as the President’s staff and all of the employees work to move from the former to a new structure. This is an entirely different kind of “Fliege,” perhaps irritating at times, but warranting careful attention and offering a better way to function as a Synod.

And not all of this attention to detail is housed in the International Center. The 2010 convention adopted significant and detailed changes that involve the Synod as a whole, changes that beg widespread attention.

Attention Needed

There is no shooing away or ignoring the swarm of detailed changes that are before the members of our Synod, especially its congregations and pastors, at the present time. These changes include

  • new expectations of congregational membership and submission of parochial reports
  • the requirement for circuit forums prior to 2012 district conventions
  • a new process of selecting circuit counselors
  • a new opportunity for congregations to be involved in determining mission and ministry emphases
  • new attention given to visitation circuits
  • new widespread involvement by congregations and parishes in the election of the President
  • new attention to certification of district convention delegates
  • a new process for the election of First Vice-President
  • elections of other vice-presidents and some board members by geographical regions

To not give attention will be to miss out on some of the important privileges and responsibilities that come with membership in the Synod.

Attention Being Given

Every effort is being made through meetings with district presidents and circuit counselors, through a every-congregation postcard campaign, through email blasts of known pastors’ email addresses, and by postings on the Internet to get this important information out to the members of the Synod in a timely manner. Don’t ignore those postcards and emails. (Don’t swat at them either.)

Ray Hartwig
LCMS Secretary

What about Bob?

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

A Kairos Moment

A great group of staff from the national office, convened as the Restructuring Work Group, met in Conference Room 424 the Monday before Christmas to study and talk about the President’s emphasis of Witness, Mercy, Life Together. There are about a dozen staff members from various disciplines in the building who are putting their heads together to consider how best to restructure the national office for service to the church.  They meet weekly in St. Louis to discuss how to move forward, progress on weekly assignments and to determine next steps.

The discussion started with Rev. Herb Mueller leading us in a review of an article he wrote on Witness, Mercy, Life Together that appears in the January Reporter insert.  Several times Rev. Mueller emphasized that Witness, Mercy, Life Together all flow out of and are linked to the cross. It was good to be reminded of the fact that our real, flesh and blood, Savior accomplished our redemption and comes to us in concrete realities in the life of the church on Sunday through baptism, communion and the Word. Through these concrete realities people go out and witness and show mercy to the world.

This study and dialogue was enjoyable and necessary for the Restructuring Work Group to spend time doing. The study rolled into a robust dialogue about how do we foster what it means to be Lutheran and how the emphasis of Witness, Mercy, Life Together help give direction to our thinking about the new structure of the national office.

The individuals on the Restructuring Work Group brought up many questions. What is the purpose of the national office in relationship to districts and congregations? What can the national office do that districts and congregations can’t do alone? How can we energize the connection between the districts and congregations with the national office? How can the national office be a catalyst for change? How can we be strategic in what we choose to do? How can we be good stewards? How can we better utilize our partners? How can the national office model, for the church, Witness, Mercy, Life Together? How can we make sure to eliminate silo operations of the national office? How can the various program areas all focus on the same common goals? How far can Witness, Mercy, Life Together emphasis spread?

Someone in the group called this a Kairos moment for the church. Kairos, a time when something special happens, the opportune moment, the right time. I think it is. I am humbled and honored to work together with this group of outstanding individuals who are willing to ask the tough questions and search, with God’s wisdom and guidance, for answers to how the new structure of the national office can better serve the church.

We ask for your prayers for this work and the people that serve on the Restructuring Work Group, that God may grant us His Holy Spirit to open our hearts and ears to one another so we are more readily able to actively participate, calm any fears and frustrations that may arise, rid ourselves of any sinfulness of pride or arrogance that may distort our thinking, and keep us humble in His service recognizing that God has granted and blessed us with this Kairos moment.

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