It Takes a Church: Discipleship in a Rapidly Changing World: What the Mid-Council Report is Really About - Tod Bolsinger
“How are those governing bodies best organized to be responsive both to the Spirit of Christ and the changing opportunities for discipleship? Are the structures of history the best platforms for carrying our mission into the future?”
Mid Councils, Discipleship and Change. Those were the key issues that were before our Commission. Not diversity, not denominational splintering, not the ongoing wrestling with ordination standards. But, discipleship in a rapidly changing context. And most pointedly: the ways that our mid-council structures are organized to serve or not serve our mission as followers of Jesus in changing world.
After almost two years of listening, studying, conversing and engaging the church with this big question, the Mid-Council Commission report is now offered to the church. We propose to flatten the hierarchy, and experiment with flexibility. We offer an extensive report on the many good and innovative mid-councils that are already adapting. We call for some ongoing conversations. We have offered short videos, and a brief Powerpoint that captures our convictions of the kinds of structures need in the future: Flat. Flexible. Faithful. Those resources capture the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of the report, so, let me introduce this discussion by offering the ‘why’.
Why do we make these particular recommendations? Because we believe that for the church to be “best organized to be responsive both to the Spirit of Christ and the changing opportunities for discipleship” we need to continue to make a clear shift in the priorities and purpose of our structures:
- Mid-Council structures must exist to serve the health and mission of congregations.
- Presbyteries must be given the power, and permission--for a season of experimentation--to structure in any way they discern will best serve the health and mission of its congregations.
This is based on a clear ‘adaptive’ principle: Genuinely transformative solutions to our biggest challenges come from giving the work back to the people most affected. ...
I think the Mid-Council Task Force report is one of the most important items of business coming to the General Assembly. I'll have more to say later but if you are a commissioner, please take to time to read and digest this report. I think it frames the issues we face well and it gives some practical strategies to pursue.