Rethinking our purpose

The Board of Directors at the Foundation has spent the last year in a strategic planning process.  We are a much different organization than when I got here seven years ago and we were trying to get a handle on what exactly our role should be.

My elevator speech has always been that the Foundation helps churches with financial stuff, like stewardship, investments, starting and managing endowments and helping to unwind messes.  Finances were our purpose.

But then we heard an interesting question.  What if our mission were to affect change in the conference, and that change was financed through our investment services?

It was a liberating question.  Finances would move from being the ends to the means.  It gave us a mandate:   We must be part of making more vital churches in East Ohio.

Making more vital churches certainly has a stewardship and endowment piece to it, effective ministry takes money afterall.  But a stewardship campaign does not a vital church make.

That takes leadership.

So we have become a leadership development organization, funded through our investment services.

In 2015 we expect to spend more than $100,000 to train leaders in our churches.  You may be aware that young clergy have been a priority of ours for years and we expect that to continue.  But there are not-so-young clergy with a heart for vitality and transformation who we will be working with.  And recognizing that clergy can’t do it alone we will be investigating the best way to train laity to come alongside those in the pulpit to boost vitality.

I’d love to layout our 15 point plan and tell you exactly what we’re going to do.  The truth is we haven’t figured that out yet.  But we have some excellent, experienced board leadership heading up that effort and we will work to complement some good Annual Conference staff as well.

This work, of course, comes with no guarantees, which is true of all church work.  But we believe that if we are to change the trajectory of the denomination, that change must come at the local church level, and no change will happen without leadership.

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