“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” – Ephesians 2:21
Following the crisis in our churches in 2003, over a period of time 96% of the ICOC churches committed to the Plan for United Cooperation. In 2007 a structure of delegates and service teams was set in place to provide a means to talk and to collaborate with each other and build unity. (See ICOC Leadership Timeline 2003-2020.) While this structure has been very helpful in keeping us together after our crisis, some have voiced concern that it makes for slow decision-making and that the delegate system may have outlived its purpose. In 2015 the Service Team chairmen initiated a self-study with an ICOC-wide survey asking brotherhood leadership to evaluate several aspects of our fellowship including our commitment to global missions and whether we should attempt to improve our coordination and organizational structure. A follow-up second survey was sent out for leadership teams to take in the fall of 2016. The concerns those surveys reflected were discussed in the leadership and Delegates meetings in 2015 and 2016. Those who took those surveys assumed their answers would weigh in on the discussions that would come up at the April 2017 Spring Leadership Meeting in Dallas. In response to the input, videos and documents were distributed in advance of the Spring Meetings for attendees to prayerfully consider in prayerful preparation. We appreciate that all participants willingly engaged in the discussions.
- Participants in the annual 2017 Spring Leadership Meeting in Dallas in April: Service Teams and leaders of large churches.
- The responses to the 2015 and 2017 leadership surveys indicated a large percentage of leaders felt our organization, missions and communication needed to be reviewed and enhanced. This prompted the agenda for the 2017 Dallas meeting.
- Some at the Dallas meeting were concerned that the nature of the discussion questions seemed to be “leading,” which led to some difficulty in responding. This concern was honestly raised and considered, both in Dallas and in the regional church families’ discussions, which encouraged discussions for a healthy process.
- The presentations and findings of the Dallas meeting were sent around the world, along with a questionnaire, inviting all regional families of churches to participate and give feedback on the following: (1) “How do we feel?” and (2) “What do we think about where we are?” and (3) “What, if anything, should be done about it?” Some contributed letters, addenda and proposals of their own in open-ended formats.
- Responding to the input from 2,400 leaders reflecting all regional families of churches, five task forces consisting of Service Team members, leaders of large churches and others with specific expertise, were formed to address the areas of consensus that needed to be addressed. Each task force reviewed the feedback from the 25-question surveys, which had multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions. As noted above, some regional families of churches chose to compile longer essay answers as well, and sent those as an addendum.
- Our task force was one of those formed, and is known as the Structure Task Force.
- We were given this charge: To discuss the feedback from our worldwide consultations and propose possible structural changes according to what we were seeing in the feedback. As expressed in the ICOC 3.0 Update #2, “areas of STRONG CONSENSUS will be identified,” and “task forces will be assembled to address the areas of consensus.” The article also states, “Feedback from the surveys will be carefully considered by task forces.” The task forces represent many parts of the world, many regional families, and different gifts and service teams.
- The timeline given on the process was concerning to a number of leaders. Some called for a slowdown, and a review of the process. The ICOC 3.0 Update #2 called for “Contributions from any interested individuals to be submitted for consideration,” and since we believe the Spirit’s guidance comes from many advisers, we are grateful for the many who wrote to the regional family chairmen. At the same time, we acknowledge that some feel their input is not being given proper due and weight in the process. We appreciate all who have participated for their respectful and charitable spirit toward one another and toward all involved in organizing this process, despite its flaws.
- In response to the Elders Service Team request and concerns from some regions of leaders, the entire deliberation process was revised and extended as explained in ICOC 3.0 Update #3, exemplary of how collaboration works when we all listen to each other.
Chaired by Dinesh George, eight of us, beginning with prayer and fasting, had five conference calls and numerous discussions in between. Our group consists of: Dinesh George (Bangalore, India), Harliem Salim (Jakarta, Indonesia), Darren Gauthier (Chicago, USA), Ed Anton (Hampton Roads, USA), Ron Quint (Los Angeles, USA), Valdur Koha (Boston, USA), Todd Asaad (Dallas, USA) and Mohan Nanjundan (London, England). Our task force took the time to read all responses of the surveys from the 2,400 leaders who participated from 34 regional families of churches (64 pages long) as well as the 16-page graph response for the multiple choice questions. We rejoice in the areas of strong consensus, while noting that these are limited. In other areas the data is open to interpretation. We also noticed a strong desire to strengthen regional and continental collaboration. Some task force members were in favor of a global leadership team, feeling that there was a mandate for it, while others expressed reservations about the clarity of the mandate. Some members thought that a more thorough process would help a mandate for future structure, if any, to surface in a more organic way instead of pre-supposing it.
The overall spirit as well as the different ideas and perspectives present on our conference calls, were collaborative, positive, spiritual and frank. These leaders were from a variety of churches with differing experiences in the last 13 years. This helped us to glean a global snapshot of the spectrum of views on the subjects discussed. The ICOC 3.0 Update #2 article stated that a woman would be included in each task force. Unfortunately, we did not realize this and did not have a woman member.
As promised in the updates, we took feedback from other leaders and members. Among these, some feared a gridlock that would set back the dreams of the young. Others feared a return to unhealthy controlling global leadership. And others were in between. Some were eager for change but strongly urged more time to communicate and educate. Gratefully, considering all input from the global collaboration, the process was extended for more thorough consideration as explained in ICOC 3.0 Update #3.
Areas of Consensus
Based on the previous two leadership surveys, the global regional family discussions and our task force discussions, there is “strong consensus” (70% or higher) on the following:
- Being a globally connected brotherhood
- Continuing to be organized globally and possibly improving the efficiency of our global organization processes.
- Believing the present growth rate is concerning and therefore there is a need to figure out how to grow both in numbers and depth.
- Figuring out how to improve our communication globally, such as by streamlining flow of information, making use of social media, and possibly considering a restructuring of finances (many regions are already voluntarily paying a considerable amount for this).
- Being willing to ask regional families of churches to start considering some kind of global contribution, instead of just voluntary giving. Some concern was raised as to whether non-contributing churches would still be members of the ICOC. No such intention has been expressed, but we acknowledge the concern. In addition, the question was worded “global brotherhood effort”; not specifically referring to a Global Leadership Team. Therefore, responders to the questionnaire might have been thinking they were being asked to give to general efforts, rather than a Global Leadership Team.
We rejoice that all sides in our discussions have expressed soberness about the danger of undoing 13 years of rebuilding. And we rejoice in our commitment to each other and God’s mission going forward. We can honestly say that many, who hold different viewpoints, have sacrificed countless hours to maintain unity during these sensitive talks. May God bless us all.
As explained in ICOC 3.0 Update #3, the task forces have been asked to provide conceptual options for consideration at the 2017 Delegates Meeting in Chicago in October. The following four models were produced through prayer, fasting, and discussions. We look forward to what the Spirit will bring as we collaborate in love, respect and unity to accomplish his will.
Each of the conceptual models [2,3,4] is briefly explained:
- ICOC 2.0 – Present Delegates System
- ICOC 3.0A - Structure Option A
- ICOC 3.0B - Structure Option B
- ICOC 3.0C - Structure Option C
ICOC 3.0A - Structure Option A
Congress of Cooperating Churches
- The goal of creating a virtual congress is to increase communication, education with individual churches and to assess effectiveness of communication between churches and Delegates.
- Each cooperating church will be sent updates on discussions, debates and resolutions from Delegate meetings.
- Churches choose their representative.
- Formal procedure will allow representative to submitted points of order to Delegates for consideration.
- At times, the Congress will be asked to vote on proposals.
- Regional families of churches continue to select their representatives from cooperating churches based on size.
- Representative must be in position to communicate, influence, represent their family of churches.
- Family of churches chairmen needs to represent churches as a delegate.
- Create Delegate sub-committees to address various kingdom needs.
- Create floor discussion to engage and debate various viewpoints.
- Change current Delegate meeting structure, to foster unity and reduce travel costs.
- Worldwide meeting of delegates, every three years; 2017, 2020, 2023.
- Delegates meet following year locally and focus on their continent.
- Delegates meet next following year and go to their mission field meeting with delegates from that continent.
- This would decrease travel and costs, allow a continental focus, create greater unity between mission societies and increase participation.
- Delegates will be accountable for communicating to their family of churches.
- The focus of this meeting would be to assist churches and families of churches in the following areas:
- Effective youth ministries such as singles, campus and teens
- Governance, both local and worldwide
- Long-term planning
- This meeting would pull in chairmen/wives of families of churches, large church leaders/wives, evangelist committee, elders committee, teachers committee.
- This would be a hands-on, working group, to prepare presentations for delegates.
- Group of five couples selected by Evangelist, Elder and Teacher committees.
- Responsibilities would be to help Assembly to prioritize areas of need to be addressed.
Would not serve in dual roles, i.e. would not serve on one of the committees or chairmen of families of churches.
ICOC 3.0B - Structure Option B
The new structure to be implemented could be adhering to the following principles:
- Representation and effectiveness: strike a sensible balance between worldwide representation and effectiveness commensurate with the great purpose;
- Checks and balances: establish a good system of accountability and reporting through spiritual team leadership and appropriate oversight;
- Empowerment: provide adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its purpose well;
- Simplicity and scalability: provide for a scalable implementation that allows a “modest beginning” based on the current low level of organizational trust with the potential of a greater empowerment in the future;
- Scope of responsibility: maintain clarity and transparency concern the responsibility of the organization. The main tasks initially would be (1) resource allocation (for missions, church support, teaching, training etc.) and (2) connection (communication, event planning, inspiration etc.).
The following three main elements seem essential of an organization that would meet the stated principles. The details (such as terms, processes, authority) are important and should be worked out as part of the proposal.
- The Representatives (30-35) of the churches from all regions around the world. This could be the chairs of the 34 families of churches. In a way this would replace the current system of delegates. The main purpose of the Representatives would be to select the board of the ICOC. The Representatives would meet once a year to vote on new board members, approve the scope of responsibilities of Board and Executive, and ratify By-Laws, Articles of Organization and Policies. The Representatives would be volunteers but consist of full-time staff members.
- The Board of Directors functions as the main oversight entity and is responsible to hire and oversee the executive team. The Board would be voted for with 3 year terms by the Representatives based on a set of key qualifications: (1) majority should be elders, (2) established church builders, (3) high-level of trust. The Board members would be paid by the ICOC on a part-time basis.
- The Executive is a team of evangelists, elders, teachers and administrators (at least initially only 5-7?) who would be responsible to implement the program approved by the Board. Initially this might be limited to (1) development of best practices in organizing missions societies and (2) coordination of events. At a later stage such responsibilities could be expanded as proposed by the Board and approved by the Representatives. The members of the Executive would be paid by the ICOC on a part-time or full-time basis, commensurate with their roles and responsibilities.
Funding is important in order to achieve the desired excellence (“you get what you pay for”). The members of the board and the executive would not only be properly funded but would also have a budget to perform their responsibilities. The volunteer participation of churches in the ICOC organization should include an expectation to make a contribution. Various ways to implement a meaningful mechanism could be implemented.
By-Laws and Policies
The ICOC would be established as a legal entity with By-Laws and Articles of Organization as well as policies that guide its operation – all to be ratified by the Representatives.
ICOC 3.0C - Structure Option C
The ICOC Delegates are 115 men and women appointed by 34 Regional Families of Churches whom God has used to rebuild trust and cooperation for our fellowship. These are all men and women with proven influence in their respective regions. However, that qualification for influence has produced a fairly homogeneous group. Moreover, the Delegates gather with a mindset to tackle policies and procedures and protocols for our global fellowship (again note the last five years of Proposals). Thus, the Delegates have not evolved into a governing body with a mandate for church growth or health. It also seems that Regional Families represent the right configuration for reinvigorating our churches to fulfill the mission of Jesus. Regions are the entities that most often work together in outreach, training, strengthening and planting churches. A simple reconfiguration of the delegates chosen by the Regional Families can refocus the energies of the global governing body toward stronger regional health and growth.
The Proposal - Reconfigure Delegates to Region Building Teams
Redirect the resources, budgets, energies, and man-hours of the Delegates meetings toward equipping Regional Families of churches for greater effectiveness. This can be achieved by:
- Changing the guidelines for selecting Delegates from each of the 34 Regional Families
- Each Region should assemble a team of Region builders that include the Regional Chairman, the campus minister who coordinates regional efforts, and the youth and family minister who likewise coordinates regional efforts.
- If a region has over 3,000 disciples, then they can add an additional Delegate per 1,000 disciples. These additional Delegates are added at the discretion of the Region. They could include additional church leaders, elders, teachers, etc.
- All Delegates will be encouraged to invite their wives, as they will be fully in engaged in all deliberations, workshops, and training.
- The Delegates will meet with a Region-building agenda to include presentations on best practices, workshops, case studies, performance updates, training, and even discipleship groups.
- Meetings will take place via continental configurations on odd years and global gatherings on even years.
- Five important sub-committees will be selected with 3-5 year terms to serve global fellowship needs: Executive Review Board, Mission Societies, Communications, Unity, and Service Team Collaboration
- The Executive Review Board will select and review 5-7 appropriately qualified men (and wives) to serve as Executive Team to steer all global initiatives and activities. This Executive Team could be formed from the Continental Leaders or from elders, evangelists, et al.
STRUCTURE TASK FORCE
- Chairman – Dinesh George, Bangalore – Evangelist; Evangelist Service Team
- Ed Anton, Hampton Roads, Virginia – Teacher/Evangelist; Chairman ACR Family of Churches; Chair Teachers Service Team
- Todd Assad, Dallas – Evangelist, Delegate
- Darren Gauthier, Chicago – Elder; Elders Service Team
- Valdur Koha, Boston – Elder/Teacher; Teachers Service Team; built major international tech company; Chairman, European Missions Society
- Mohan Nanjundan, London – Evangelist; Chairman UK & Scandinavia Family of Churches; Evangelist Service Team
- Ron Quint, Los Angeles – Evangelist; Evangelist Service Team
- Harliem Salim, Jakarta – Evangelist; Chairman, South East Asia Family of Churches