GAC Mission Work Plan, 2009-2012

Lately, I've done a couple of posts devoted to the General Assembly Council (G.A.C.) of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., the mission arm of the denomination at the national level. For those of you curious about the inner workings of the G.A.C., I thought I would devote a lengthy post to the emerging G.A.C. operational structure. (If you need a primer on how the G.A.C. fits into the denominational structure, click here. If you want to see a seventeen-minute video that introduces the work of the G.A.C., click here. For the G.A.C. 2007 Annual Report, click here.) I will have served on the G.A.C. for four years as of June and will serve as vice-Chair starting in June.

The G.A.C. receives its mandate from the General Assembly, which briefly stated is to provide visionary leadership in the development and implementation of the General Assembly's mission directives, support governing bodies in common mission, and act on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on policy matters when the General Assembly is not in session. (See Book of Order G-13.0200)

A four-year Mission Work Plan will now guide the ongoing work of the G.A.C. This plan spells out the G.A.C. vision and core values and identifies goals and objectives. The plan is divided into five goal areas: Evangelism, Discipleship, Vocation, Justice, and Stewardship. Within each of these goal areas are a handful of strategic goals, stating at the broadest level what the G.A.C. board believes should be the focus of G.A.C. work.

With strategic goals in place, operational goals must be developed that will bring the strategic goals to life. While the broader vision and goals are ultimately the board's responsibility, the staff is responsible for objectives and measurable outcomes. While board and staff interaction is present in all facets of these decisions, it is in the development of the operational objectives that the primary interface occurs. It is upon the basis of operational objectives that budget decisions will be made. (See schematic at the end of the post.)

Going forward, the board will review progress on objectives and outcomes and incorporate mandated new business from the General Assembly into the plan. While the staff is organized according to various offices and departments, the board will primarily focus on accomplishing outcomes by goal area, not programmatic details.

This is the third attempt to implement a Mission Work Plan over the last five years. I served on the Mission Work Plan team that devised a plan for the 2007-2008 calendar years. We had the beginnings of a plan in place by early 2006, only to be confronted with a $10 million budget cut. That event, the subsequent departure of all top-level staff, a thorough reorganization of the staff structure, and a reorganization of how the board functions led to a derailment of the Mission Work Plan's implementation. In 2007, I was one of two people who joined a new team to pick up the work and start all over. The learnings from the previous go-round, the consulting services we used, and the input we received from middle governing body executives, a Presbyterian Panel survey, focus groups, and other resources have significantly improved the new plan's quality.

The G.A.C. approved the plan below at their February meeting. Staff is presently hard at work formulating operational goals and budget implications. Before the April meeting, board members will see what the staff proposes and have the opportunity for input and evaluation. Then will come the April meeting, where a final version of operational goals and a budget will be agreed upon. From there, it goes to the General Assembly for approval in June.

I hope this summary gives you some idea of where we are. Any feedback or questions are welcome.


The General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 2009-2012 Mission Work Plan


The Mission Work Plan provides the framework for directing, supporting, and evaluating the ministries of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This plan builds upon the 2007-2008 Mission Work Plan which was reviewed and assessed through periodic progress reports during 2007. It is intended to encompass the years 2009-2012, be flexible in its application in a rapidly changing church and world, and encourage ongoing conversation with congregations, governing bodies and other mission partners.

Vision Statement

Called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) offers the world a visible witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With congregations, governing bodies, and other mission partners we serve the church in mission.

Core Values

Called by our common baptism to faith in and service of our Lord Jesus Christ, and nurtured at his table wherever it is set in the world, we, the General Assembly Council, commit ourselves through the 2009-2012 Mission Work Plan to C.A.R.E., which means to be:


Calling for continued commitment to our connectional polity by the church at all levels, we will cultivate an inclusive, covenantal community in Christ.


Addressing our established goals and actively seeking advice and evaluation, we will be aware that we always answer to God and to one another.


Recognizing our role as servant leaders, we will respond to the voice of the church, fostering strong relationships with congregations, governing bodies, and other partners. 


Exhibiting faithful stewardship through God’s empowering grace, we will serve with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.

Goal Areas


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8  NRSV

The General Assembly Council will proclaim in word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ by:

  • Witnessing to the Gospel's transforming power locally and globally with special emphases on people at the margins of society and those with no active church affiliation;
  • Working in partnership to nurture healthy congregations, including new church developments, and congregational transformations, and to meet the General Assembly goals for diversifying our membership through multicultural and racial-ethnic congregations and fellowships; and
  • Strengthening and discovering new ways to witness faithfully with Presbyterian and ecumenical partners in the United States and around the world.


"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20a  NRSV

The General Assembly Council will equip people, from the youngest of children to the most mature of Christians, to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and to follow, learn, and live God's new way in the world by:

  • Engaging in Biblical, theological, ecumenical, interfaith and ethical study;
  • Studying, articulating, and teaching our Reformed tradition;
  • Resourcing Christian education, spiritual disciplines, worship, and stewardship; and
  • Encouraging bold and inclusive witness to the Gospel in all facets of personal and communal life.


Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NRSV

The General Assembly Council will encourage people to hear and respond to God's call to witness and serve in the church and the world by:

  • Assisting all people to discern and respond to vocational call;
  • Encouraging and supporting people called to mission service in the United States and around the world;
  • Partnering with congregations, governing bodies, seminaries, other educational institutions and entities to cultivate leadership for the church; and
  • Supporting pastors, commissioned lay pastors, Christian educators, other church professionals, elders and deacons in service and leadership.                                                                                                                     


He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8  NRSV

The General Assembly Council will join God in transforming societies to reflect God's intention for a just, peaceful, and compassionate world by:

  • Bearing prophetic witness to justice and compassion and speaking truth to power on behalf of the General Assembly;
  • Equipping and supporting congregations, mission initiators, global partners, and mission personnel as they bear witness to God's intentions;
  • Working to alleviate injustice, poverty, hunger, and the effects of illness, disaster and suffering;
  • Promoting peace and the resolution of conflict in all aspects of life and community; and
  • Fostering cultural sensitivity and welcoming diversity as the church witnesses in the world.


Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. I Peter 4:10 NRSV

The General Assembly Council will commit itself and inspire people to live in grateful response to God's abundant grace and gifts by:

  • Professing a common understanding within our Reformed tradition of a theology of abundant living and giving;
  • Communicating the vision, mission and ministry of the General Assembly Council within the context of the P.C.U.S.A.;
  • Inviting people into a meaningful response to God's abundance;
  • Urging responsible care for God's creative work in the environment; and
  • Effectively managing the church's resources while leading the P.C.U.S.A. with purpose, transparency, integrity and commitment.

Glossary of Terms

Core Value: A statement in broad terms of the essential and enduring ethos that permeates all facets of organizational life.

Goal: A statement in broad terms of the principal program, development, administrative or other major accomplishments the organization hopes to achieve to realize its vision.

Goal Area:  A grouping of related goals

Mission:  Proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Mission Work Plan:  The framework for directing, supporting, and evaluating the ministries of the General Assembly Council.

Objective: A statement in narrow terms of a milestone to be accomplished, related to operational goals, stated in terms of a result (not an activity) that is time bound and measurable.

Operational Goal: A subsidiary goal to a strategic goal that focuses the operations of the organization toward the achievement of strategic goals.

Strategic Goal: A high level goal that is formed in response to opportunities and challenges related to achieving the organizational vision that focuses operational activities.

Vision: A broad statement of what the organization hopes and dreams of becoming.   


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