Friday, December 15, 2006

A Barking Dog Was Let Inside the House, Oh My!"

First impressions on the Transformation Ministries Board

After receiving a several hour board orientation on Wednesday and participating in an all day board meeting yesterday, there are a few observations worth sharing regarding the board of Transformation Ministries (formerly ABCPSW) . . .

As an organization we have moved on. While some of us still grieve over the withdrawal from an organization we were part of for decades (in my case more than half a century!), as an organization Transformation Ministries does not look backward, only forward. Conversations about “the” ABC were relegated to break times between some of us older pastor types. There was no “bad mouthing,” no conspiring, and no attention paid to fighting with our sisters and brothers in the ABC. It was as close to a “bless each other and move on” situation as one could imagine. Dale Salico did not even appear particularly aware of what has been happening in the ABC since withdrawal some months ago.

TransMin is rapidly retooling to have a congregation focus and truly associational feel, so different from most regional judicatories in any number of denominations. The talk yesterday was on seeing ourselves as a “movement of Baptist churches in association with each other.”

TransMin has made a commitment to shed the trappings of old patterns of judicatory management in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

First, yesterday we voted to offer nearly two dozen congregations their deeds which have been held by the region. These were the first churches our staff had completed researching; many more are yet to come. In some cases this meant forgiving gift loans from decades ago. In other instances, it involved forgiving substantial debts of more recent vintage. And, in one example where a church wanted to withdraw from TransMin and to remain in the ABCUSA, we will be offering to transfer their deed to another ABC region. The board is intent upon "getting out of the property business."

Second, the board has adopted a modified “Carver Model” of policy governance so popular in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. In place of old hierarchical micromanagement style, the board, executive minister, and staff have clearly delineated roles and functions. With carefully articulated and “nested” sets of “guiding principles,” “boundary principles,” and “accountability principles,” the board governs, the executive leads, and the staff manages. Rather than getting caught up in the minutiae of management, the board devotes its time to prayer, Bible study, in being inserviced on policy governance, and governing by setting policy and holding the executive accountable for specific, empirical, and written outcomes. The board majors on ends and the executive and his staff are given the authority and responsibility to select appropriate means consistent with the guidelines, boundary principles, and accountability standards.

There remains a good deal of hurt occasioned by misleading characterizations, misstatements, and outright untruths being reported out of meetings with ABC officials attempting to cobble together a new ABC region in the Southwest. One might expect sisters and brothers to at least attempt to meet the biblical standard of not bearing false witness. Here again, Dr. Salico has elected to take the “high road” and has neither responded in kind nor did he engage in efforts to undermine the work of the ABC representatives, even when the tactics have not met the minimal standards of truthfulness or fair play.

I am privileged and excited about being part of a movement of Baptists who take ALL of the Baptist distinctives, including biblical authority and classic orthodoxy, seriously. As organizations falter and crumble around us, may the Lord add his blessing to this important new work.

[His Barking Dog is actually a part of the board of TransMin and must claim some responsibility for decisions made by that body. However, as a new member without tenure or access to the executive committee, my barkings are still VERY much my own and undirected by my masters in the Southwest. Hey, Dale, arf . . . arf. . .. owww . . . did you have to put such a heavy choke chain on me?]

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