Legislation proposes conference restructuring

Categories: Annual Conference 2017,News

NIC Structure
Doc. 700.14 passed at Annual Conference on June 5, 2017

With submitted legislation, the Organizational Task Force is introducing a restructuring plan for the Northern Illinois Conference to streamline committee work, align resources and create an intersection between administrative, program and superintending functions.

As outlined in the legislation, the proposed organizational structure is centered around an Annual Conference Shepherding Team (ACST) and six District Shepherding Teams (DST). The ACST is an adaptive learning team with a primary purpose to coordinate and communicate the ministry of the NIC in order to make disciples for Jesus Christ. The primary purpose of each DST is to coordinate the equipping of local churches so that they might be faithful, Christ-centered communities of worship, prayer, witness and change, and to enhance the connection between local churches, the districts and the NIC.

The ACST and DSTs will prayerfully focus on the following four Core Areas of priority that were identified through the Landscape process: 1) Congregational Life; 2)Clergy Life 3)Missional Life; 4) Connectional Resources.

The ACST and DSTs will be intentionally diverse and representative of the various ministry areas in our conference, including representatives from each of the Core Areas.

Background In August 2014, the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CCFA) realized that the NIC was facing a significant budget shortfall. They realized that there was no committee in charge of helping discern missional priorities to assist in allocating resources. What actions should the Annual Conference take to deal with our new financial reality? What should we prioritize? There was no one empowered to help answer these questions while representing all of the different ministries and experiences that are a part of our Annual Conference. As a result, the NIC underwent the Landscape process to ask leaders and church members all over the Conference about best ways for the Conference to operate and which resources the local church needed. The process involved hundreds of people participating

In August 2014, the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CCFA) realized that the NIC was facing a significant budget shortfall. They realized that there was no committee in charge of helping discern missional priorities to assist in allocating resources. What actions should the Annual Conference take to deal with our new financial reality? What should we prioritize? There was no one empowered to help answer these questions while representing all of the different ministries and experiences that are a part of our Annual Conference. As a result, the NIC underwent the Landscape process to ask leaders and church members all over the Conference about best ways for the Conference to operate and which resources the local church needed. The process involved hundreds of people participating

listeningsession2 (1)As a result, the NIC underwent the Landscape process to ask leaders and church members all over the Conference about best ways for the Conference to operate and which resources the local church needed. The process involved hundreds of people participating in surveys and listening sessions from all over our conference. From it, we learned that there was a desire for leadership with a common vision and mission, consistent priorities and that coordinates resources and communication. Through this process, we heard consistently that the Conference’s highest priorities included equipping leaders and churches with strategies for reaching new members, growing spiritually as disciples of Christ, and being more effective in community outreach; resourcing struggling churches; rethinking how to be vital

Through this process, we heard consistently that the Conference’s highest priorities included equipping leaders and churches with strategies for reaching new members, growing spiritually as disciples of Christ, and being more effective in community outreach; resourcing struggling churches; rethinking how to be vital churches; and cultivating trust within the conference.

Additionally, the feedback showed our Conference values include: being focused on mission; evaluation, accountability and support for growth; experimentation and risk-taking for the purpose of learning; transparency, honesty, and graciousness with each other; safe spaces for sharing; building relationships; provision of resources/services closer to the local church; and fostering and celebrating diversity. In summary, the feedback suggested that the Conference could use some kind of body that was empowered to facilitate decision-making processes for the Conference between June Annual Conferences and to execute the Annual Conference’s vision throughout the year.

Legislation to create a plan for such a body was passed by our whole community at the 2016 Annual Conference and 27 people from all over the Conference spent the last year creating such a plan. The Organizational Task Force explored theology and theory on organizational structure, reviewed structures of other Annual Conferences, and used our own creative ideas, along with the vision, mission, values and priorities discerned through the Landscape process, to develop a new structure for the NIC. This plan is being presented for a vote this Annual Conference on June 5, 2017.

Diversity and Advocacy

IMG_1720As diversity is one of the NIC’s values, the new structure will seek to ensure diversity throughout the leadership of the NIC and its committees, including on the ACST and DSTs. Since diversity alone does not ensure advocacy, three members of the ACST will be representatives of ethnic caucuses. Beyond these three positions, our deep commitment to diversity and advocacy can be attained through an intentional, prayerful nomination and leadership selection process for all membership positions in the structure.

Diversity and advocacy for those who are often underrepresented are essential in order to have a ministry that includes, nurtures and seeks justice for all in the name of Jesus Christ. The ACST is intended to be a learning team that encourages and facilitates the learning, critical thinking and experimentation throughout the Conference. As a learning team, it will evaluate and discern the learning from experimentation, and it will communicate new knowledge and insights throughout the NIC, so that it can be incorporated into ministries of the districts and local churches. It will also continuously transforms itself in order to adapt to the challenges and opportunities for ministry in the NIC. As we learn and adapt, the structure itself is expected to adapt over time.

The proposed organizational structure addresses the equipping, coordinating and communicating functions essential to the NIC. However, the underlying committee structure still needs to be evaluated to see if there are more efficient ways to organize our work as a Conference. This year we will begin evaluating the existing committees and propose a streamlined committee structure as well as appropriate adaptations to the ACST and DSTs to the Annual Conference in 2018, with potentially additional changes in 2019. Future adaptations may also be needed as our ministry environment changes over time, new priorities emerge, or as we learn and grow.

Moving Forward

IMG_1721So, what does all of this mean for you? If you love the conference or district ministry in which you are involved, you will be able to continue the work! The only conference committee that will immediately change is the Program Council, which will no longer exist. The work and budgetary decisions that have been made by the Program Council will now happen through the various designated ministry core areas under the guidance of the Office of Connectional Ministries. Otherwise, the work of most committees should remain similar to the past at this time.

What will change is that you, along with the other committees in your Focus Area, will have a representative to the ACST and will work directly with your DST, and you will have the opportunity to bring before those teams your priorities and what additional resources and conversations are needed for your ministry.

What we hope will change is that 1) when you have questions about how the conference can serve you, it should be much clearer where to go; 2) if you notice something in your area of ministry that it would be strategically helpful for the district or conference as a whole to consider or take into account (for example, “We need to put more resources into ministry for retired folks” or “Local churches need more resources on how to get creative with prayer”), there will be one clear place to take this information that then can act on it; and 3) you will feel more informed about what is happening in NIC, have access to new ideas, learnings, and trainings, which can be used in ministry at your local church.

To download and review the legislation visit go to our AC page and click on the “Legislation” tab.

FAQ sheet

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Resource Videos:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

What this means for the local church

 

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