Organizational Change

It’s great with a night off from studying for exams, and tonight I ended up spending the evening in a café with a friend, discussing the world situation and church politics (as we have so many times before). We agreed on a lot of things, one of them being that we like this man:

If you’re Danish, you should have seen him on TV the last few days. If not, let me introduce: Torben M. Andersen, president of the Welfare Commission, professor of Economics, University of Aarhus. Opux has even attended some of his lectures. I have had no such luck.

The story, in brief, is this: The Danish welfare society faces substantial challenges in the next half century due to changes in demographics and globalization, to name a few. The Welfare Commission was created to give its recommendations as to what we should do about it; what changes should be made to current policies in order to cope with changing conditions. Denmark is currently experiencing growth and prosperity, it was thought best to start looking at changes while we’re on top. This Wednesday the commission presented its report. It had several controversial suggestions, sure, but overall their ideas sound very, very reasonable. The only problem is, politicians across the board have been quick to renounce the most far-reaching proposals. Even the prime minister was surprisingly reserved, and not the visionary he usually is. It’s at least three years to the next election, but still they all seem afraid to do what logically seems necessary. A lot of it will probably happen anyway, but not as part of the grand vision one could have hoped for.

This leads us on to church structure. A year and a half ago, at the Union Session of the SDA Church in Denmark, members passed a motion to create a Structural Commission and commence a thorough debate about the future and structure of the church in this country. A very good idea, indeed. Only problem is, the implementation has been all but absent. One attempt at an open meeting was made, but it was clear to all who were present that the administration had simply not understood its mandate.

I am hoping that this idea will not suffer the same slow death as so many good ideas before it. For we simply cannot afford to ignore reality. I believe the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has a future in Denmark. But not without a vision. Not without necessary changes, some of which may be painful. We need to address the issues.

We need a Structural Commission that is visionary, competent, passionate, efficient, and attentive. We need honest debate. We need controversial, but far-sighted ideas. We need consulting from experts on the field, people like George Knight, Barry Oliver, and perhaps Torben M. Andersen. I’m aware that the results of such a commission may very well recieve the same half-hearted reactions that the Welfare Commission spurred from Danish politicians. But at least we will have the debate, the discussions, the suggestions, and the comments.

It is never too soon to be contemplating the future. As Adventists, waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, this should come as no surprise to us.

5 responses to “Organizational Change

  1. måske forstår jeg ordet strukturkommission forkert, men jeg tænker blot at an komtie, der skal kigge på strukturerne og måske ændre ikke i sig selv vil skabe en levedygtig kirke. Det er ikke strukturerne, der skaber liv, blot en tanke…

  2. Thomas, I agree with you that good structure in itself does noet create life. I also believe, however, that bad structure may stifle it.

  3. Kenneth, could you identify some areas for possible structural improvement?

    I was just asked today to join a commitee on this very issue, so I am all ears.

  4. See, now there’s a challenge – I will definitely get back to you on that, Lasse. It’s great news that you’ll be on the commitee.

    A recommendation for the working process is to get out in the field and get your hands dirty (like the welfare commission). Scheduling open plenary meetings across the country throughout the process would enhance the public foundation and probably the eventual quality of the result.

    Another is to think big and try to tout the recommendations of experts in the field. George Knight and Barry Oliver spring to mind, there will be several others. Invite them to Denmark to meet with the committe.

  5. Pingback: DUCH Session - Structural Change « Kenneth Birch

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