New districts will provide new opportunities for life-changing ministry.
CONFERENCE DESIGN TEAM
From its inception, the Design Team was mandated to create something new. We, as the Design Team, came to a shared agreement that if this new conference was going to be something new and better – more effective at every level at making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – then our current districts would need to be re-cast.
Why re-district at all?
The decision to create new Districts is driven by the goal to fulfill the Conference Vision and not by a goal of cost reduction. Re-districting will align with the new Conference structure, the Director staffing model, and funding strategies in order to fulfill the new Conference Vision.
While our current Districts have engaged in much fruitful and life-changing ministry and mission over the decades, the Design Team concluded that if the new Michigan Conference merely carried-over the existing 12 district structure, then there would be too much “same old, same old” and a glorious opportunity for new, creative forms to upgrade our ministry and mission would be lost. Districts function very differently in the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences. Maintaining the current District boundaries and structures would, in the end, simply carry over existing Detroit and West Michigan “turfs” and “territories” and further entrench existing practices into the new Michigan Conference in ways that would, ultimately, hinder this creativity.
New Districts will provide new opportunities for aligning local congregations with the new Conference vision of Christ Centered Mission and Ministry, Bold and Effective Leaders, and Vibrant Congregations. New districts will bring a new mix of leaders and congregations. New Districts will provide incentive and motivation by allowing us to examine what is working well in different districts, and what can be improved or eliminated. New Districts will allow the forging of new relationships and a new identity to move into the future.
Please refer to three other documents for additional context on the work of districts, and the formation of new districts if the re-districting model is approved:
1) Resolution, with Report and Rationale, to approve nine districts in the Michigan Conference;
2) Resolution and Rationale for the creation of a Legal and Financial Task Force to form new districts;
3) Bishop Bard’s proposed process to form the districts with respect to names, boundaries and office locations.
Click here for the Legislative Guidebook that contains the documents; pages 58-62.
The Design Team and its sub-committees looked at many different models for districting. It consulted with Bishop Bard, and the Appointive and Full Cabinets. It looked at models from one district to 24 districts. It was guided and constrained in its discernment by the Book of Discipline and Judicial Council rulings.
The Design Team is proposing nine districts because it offers the opportunity to do something new and effective, for the following reasons:
- Nine Districts will substantially cross and break down current conference and district boundaries.
- Nine Districts will allow each district to build new relationships and forge a new identity.
- Nine Districts will allow new District Leadership Teams to examine what to keep that is effective and what to re-work without being burdened by what has always been done.
- Nine Districts will allow for creative new district structures such as District Mission Zones and Mission clusters.
- Nine Districts will increase the number of churches assigned to each DS, but is deemed manageable with more creative administration, such as more effective use of elders and lay leaders, and close cooperation with the Director model of staffing.
- Nine Districts will increase the pool of churches and leaders in every district to strengthen ministries, especially as the programs and leaders at the conference level become more streamlined.
- Nine Districts will invite DS’s to operate differently and live into their recent Disciplinary mandate to be the “Chief Missional Strategist,” while creating new ways to cover the administrative load.
- Nine Districts will allow overall savings to be directed toward different staffing and programmatic configurations.
Eight districts, or ten districts could accomplish much of this. However, eight districts would push the number of churches supervised by each DS into the unmanageable zone. Ten Districts would not be a significant enough change of boundaries and operations. More than 12 districts would not be financially feasible.
The Design Team, therefore, concluded that the Nine District Proposal was the best model for the new Michigan Conference. It is compliant with the Book of Discipline, financially sustainable, and organizationally strategic. Further, we truly believe that Nine Districts will align with the other proposed structural, staffing, and funding changes in order to fulfill the Conference Vision in creative and new ways.