At first glance, the proceedings were unremarkable, even commonplace. It was a familiar scene: some 20 people sitting in a conference room for half a week discussing institutional action items for the coming year. It’s a scene that you might encounter in any corporate office on any given day. But on these days, Nov. 17–19, 2014, there was a feeling in the air that something extraordinary was taking place, as though a proverbial fork in the road had been reached and whichever path the deliberators chose to take would hold major implications for the future.
Every year the GARBC’s governing body, the Council of Eighteen, meets for several days at the Resource Center in Schaumburg, Ill., to hash out strategies and make decisions that provide direction and oversight for the association. In the past few years these meetings have tended to focus more on long-term planning for the future than they had previously. Beginning in 2010, the council began an intensive, multiyear strategic planning initiative. That initiative resulted in the 20/20 Master Plan for the future, which proposed key steps that the GARBC must take in order to thrive in the days ahead. Now, with the ground gained from this year’s council meetings, the association is postured to make good on all this planning.
“This morning, we’re going to talk about the way forward for our fellowship,” National Representative John Greening said to open Tuesday’s first session. “We are at a significant ‘seam’ as an association. Over the next few years we are going to see significant changes to our administrative staffing. We’re getting ready to sell this building and relocate. Our business model has undergone some changes. Now what does that mean for us as we look toward the future?”
The answer: it means change. Not arbitrary change for its own sake, but strategic change carefully implemented to promote associational growth and effectiveness. This will include staff realignment, renewed commitment to church planting, adjustments to the association’s resource delivery system, and applying a “systems thinking” approach to the association’s various ministries.
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