Modernising and simplifying our governance, structure and processes
At General Assembly 2023 three particular focus areas were agreed as part of the Assembly Trustees (AT) report. In a recent Life and Work article David Cameron laid out the thinking around the first of these priorities which relates to our emerging new Presbyteries and the critical role that they will play in the Future of our Church. The second area to highlight is the imperative of modernising and simplifying our governance, structure and processes.
The big question that faces us is: how do we progress the identified imperative of modernising and simplifying our governance, structure and processes when it is so embedded in our DNA as a Church? The AT report noted that we will need to move towards true collaborative working where historic boundaries and barriers disappear. We will need clearer accountability, removal of duplication, all future work clearly focused on what really matters to our Church and a continual review of all programmatic work that takes account of our financial constraints.
What the regional and local Church actually needs from the national organisation is another question. What work is best either devolved to the local or more efficiently progressed centrally at a national level? These sort of questions can only be addressed together and the national team cannot and must not do this in isolation.
At a national level delivery of lean and efficient professional services in support of the needs of the local Church remains the goal. We have come a long way in terms of the initial prioritisation, particularly in the Faith Action area, and further work is being progressed to ensure all our work is clearly targeted on the recently agreed priorities and the underpinning activities that are critical for governance of one of Scotland's largest charities. We are currently undertaking a comprehensive review of all the work in both the Faith Action and support department areas to ensure that all our activities are aligned to meet the developing local need working alongside the presbyteries in determining this. In parallel a thorough reassessment of delegated authorities and organisational arrangements within the national structures of the Church is being progressed which will be reported to GA 2024.
At a national level our financial situation remains a serious concern despite achieving the 30% reduction in controllable costs required by the 2019 report of the Special Commission so there is a continuing imperative to actively manage this situation.
Going forward hard decisions need to be made, given the backdrop of our people and financial situation. Thinking ahead we will continue to press on with identifying new opportunities for income generation at all levels within the Church with the clear objective of providing sustainable funding to support our ministry and missional goals.
Missional leadership and resources for mission lie within our new Presbyteries and congregations, so that is where our primary focus needs to be.
Modernising how we work, communicate and interact will be a key aspect of our Future ways of working. We are behind the curve in some parts of this as it has not always been a historic priority but we are working hard to become the leaner and fitter national organisation that the General Assembly has asked for. In progressing this we need to be mindful that we have to be inclusive and that some of the new ways of working, particularly the use of new technologies, will not appeal to everyone. To do this effectively we need to transform our processes, information technology and communication capability moving on from the old ways.
Everything we are doing across the whole of the Church is interconnected which will require us to work on all of this as one. We will need to pull all the levers at the same time to make this work. There is no doubt in my mind that modernising our ways must be progressed with urgency to ensure that the Church and the message of hope that the bible brings to us all is there for future generations.
Take care and God Bless,