Today is the first real day of work for the committees at the General Assembly. I am resourcing the committee dealing with the revision of the Form of Government.
Here is the text of my presentation this morning.
Why a New Form of Government?
The population of the US has grown by 52 million people from 1990 to 2006. Among those new arrivals are 68,510,978 newborn babies and 22,873,578 immigrants – a total of 91 million additional people.
Let those numbers sink into your head and heart. More than 91 million people living in the United States today did not live here 16 years ago. That’s represents almost a third of the United States.
Ron Heifitz, a senior lecturer in leadership at Harvard University says that one of the most important leadership tasks in a rapidly changing world is to be able to distinguish between technical challenges and adaptive challenges.
• You already know the solution
• You already possess the necessary know how
• It is a matter of applying what you already know
• This is a question of implementation
• You do not know the solution
• Standard operating procedure will no longer work
• Requires imaginative and creative experimentation to discover solutions
• New discoveries will be made
• This is a question of transformation
• Success will be built on lessons learned from failures
• Adaptive challenges present danger and huge opportunities
I recently converted from a PC laptop to a Mac. I wanted to do this for a long time but didn't because of the challenges of switching everything over. This - switching computer systems - represents a technical challenge.
I have four children and the oldest is now a middle-schooler. And in the last year or two, mother nature has visited my daughter with some new gifts - hormones. And because of that, my little girl has been transforming right before my eyes. And due to her new transformation, I am finding that we must both discover new ways of relating to one another. She is no longer my little girl, and she is not quite yet a woman. And in this transition time, we are both learning how to be a family together.
This is an adaptive challenge. Karis and I are both learning to adapt to this new reality. We cannot remain the same. Neither of us know for sure what and how we are to be. We are learning from our mistakes on how to be a family. We both love one another and respect each other and are looking forward to this new way of relating.
The main question that the Presbyterian Church today must be able to answer is this. Are our current challenges we’re facing in a post-modern, post-Christian, post-denominational world technical challenges or are they adaptive challenges.
If the challenges we’re facing are technical in nature, than all we have to do is keep on doing what we’ve been doing – keep tinkering with our current form of government through overtures and such.
On the other hand, if the challenges we’re facing today are adaptive challenges, it is no longer a matter of tinkering with current structures, but an issue of transforming and reformatting that structure. And that is what we were commissioned to do by the 217th GA, and that work is before you in this committee.
Our Presbyterian reformers did church in a reformed and Presbyterian way because this was the most effective way to make new Christians and to help Christians to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. The Presbyterian “way” was a tool to get that done.
If our current “way” of doing church is not helping ministry and mission, then our current way must change in order for us to be faithful to our Presbyterian heritage of doing whatever it takes and doing everything in our power to grow new Christians and grow faithful disciples.
Our Presbyterian foundations and our reformed theological convictions remain. How we do church must reflect the reality of the changed world.
We believe this new Form of Government gets us closer to that goal than what we currently have. We believe it is beyond mere tinkering with existing norms. We believe what is called for is a transformation of how we do church in a reformed and Presbyterian way.
Currently, the committee is in open hearings where they are hearing from people who have concerns or issues regarding our proposal.
More to come.