At the University of Pittsburgh, I directed the strategic planning support activities for a major research university facing an unprecedented crisis in leadership. Morale was at an all time low and deferred maintenance would soon bankrupt the institution. I crafted a planning and budgeting process (later used by other universities) that helped identify core mission areas, promote participation by all constituents, and link budget and personnel planning directly with planning for strategic goals.
When I arrived at Midland, the congregation had already adopted and rejected the Carver model, and had begun implementing the Hotchkiss system of Governance and Ministry – a model I wholeheartedly endorse. I led the effort of the Governance Team in completing implementation, which eventually led to a new mission, a new vision, statements of core values, and overhauled By-Laws. This governance system strongly links lay and ministerial leadership and guarantees fiscal responsibility while at the same time providing funding for opportunities.
In a few years, the Fellowship budget increased to accommodate additional hours for the Director of Religious Education, more funding for physical plant upkeep, and new revenues for ministry team expenses. For the last two years of my tenure, the Fellowship achieved its pledge drive amount for the first time in its history.
A primary focus during my interim ministry in Louisville has been unraveling a complex bureaucracy that was causing volunteer burnout. I worked with the Board to examine different approaches to governance that focused on mission rather than budget function. By taking responsibility for the chief of staff function, I relieved congregants of the thankless task of supervising full- and part-time employees, bringing stability to the workplace and increasing the confidence of both staff and church members.
My mantra – Any governance system will work if enacted appropriately. The converse is also true: any governance system will fail if improperly stalled or operated.