June 30, 2020

Reconstruction Plan for Mission Oregon Churches

Bill Wilson

[Bill Wilson]

Hey, Bill Wilson here from the Oregon Ministry Network. I'm so excited about having Lee McCloud, who also serves the Network, alongside me. We're going to talk today about Network affiliated churches. We've been on this journey together for going into your 14th year. That's hard to believe, but it's a real thrill to serve the Oregon Ministry Network together. Good friend.

In April 2020, Lee, we had the Presbytery give us direction on Network affiliated churches. Maybe you could explain to us a little bit what a Network affiliated church is, and what are some of the new directives that we're going to pursue.

[Lee McCloud]

Okay, in 1914, we all know the Assemblies of God was formed. They basically formed with two categories of churches. They had General Council affiliated churches, which oftentimes we would refer to a Sovereign church. They had District affiliated churches, which in Oregon we have called oftentimes Mission Oregon or Home Missions churches historically. More recently we call them Mission Oregon churches. Then in 2010, a third category was created officially, and that was the PAC, parent affiliated churches. All of them function a little bit different. The General Council, they govern themselves. The PAC church is governed by the parent church. But the Network affiliated church, or the Mission Oregon Church, is meant to be governed by the Network, and by a group of people within the Network.

One of the unique characteristics is that in a Network affiliated church, the Oregon Ministry Network is 100% liable for all of their actions. For a number of years, we have been encouraged by General Council, by legal counsel and others to say, "If you're going to have Network affiliated churches, you have to follow your governing documents." We've discovered that we haven't always done that. We haven't always done that. In fact, right now on our list we have 41 churches that are Network affiliated churches, but less than 30 really have functioned in that category, and some don't even know they're on the list. They don't even realize that.

We also think that a lot of the churches on the list are very healthy. We think it's a time for them to launch out on their own. Coming out of this strange time we've been in with this pandemic, and following your advice to reset, we think here's a great opportunity for them to, as a healthy church, relaunch looking different moving forward. So, in April 2020, the Presbytery adopted a reconstruction plan for a Network affiliated church. And so moving forward, there's a new set of bylaws, there is a new policy manual, there is a new agreement between the pastor and the Oregon Ministry Network. We have formed a Church Health Team that's going to help with the governance piece of that.

Now, we're going to try to inform people as we go throughout the state. Then hopefully, give them some options.

[Bill Wilson]

Of the 191 churches, the National Office said there were about 40+ churches that fit in this category. Your investigation says, "No, I don't think so," but some churches don't know. Tell us a little bit about what you actually have found.

[Lee McCloud]

What we've found is first of all, we've discovered that some people don't realize they're on that list because it happened decades ago, and it was just never changed. From our perspective, we hadn't been enforcing the governance piece. So, a lot of people are surprised to find they're on the list. In reality, they have been governing themselves for decades. We feel like that it's time to just officially place them in another category, which requires a step or two. There's a form that needs to be filled out, and that can be handled through our office, and through my assistant, Valerie.

We've also discovered that some people don't think they can govern themselves, but we think they can. Pastor Bill, you've taught us for all these years that our mission, our mandate is to develop effective leaders, that we want to have healthy churches and healthy ministries. We think the healthy move, for many churches, is to take a step towards becoming a General Council church. So, our very first option would be if you are healthy enough, or if you're accidentally, or you're in a wrong category, we want to make sure that you become General Council.

Our second option would be that if you had a parent church, and you'd like to enter into a PAC relationship, or you'd like us to explore possibilities and options for you, we'll try to find somebody to where you can be tethered to maybe a little larger work, or a more solid work. Not always healthier, but just has some stability there. We're willing to do that. There might be some that the church cycle, the church life cycle, has come to an end. That's not always because of the pastor or the current congregation, our towns have died in Oregon. The logging is gone. The lumber is gone. The schools have closed. We have a few of those cases.

For the fourth category that would remain a Network affiliated church, we have drafted new documents, and that's what the Presbytery approved, that would include a Church Health Team. We have a team that will be appointed for a couple of years. It's made of very reputable ministers within our state that will work alongside the local pastor to help provide the governance for a healthy church.

[Bill Wilson]

That's, as you mentioned, our mission, is to be healthy. Thank you for all the hard work you've done. I know this brilliant effort to organization and restructure has been very much a part of your heart, and you've worked diligently on that. Moving forward, as a pastor of a local church, as leaders in a local church, if we are currently in the Network affiliated category, and we want to move forward, what… You've mentioned some guidelines. What will be the next step for us?

[Lee McCloud]

First of all, if you are on that list you can expect a call from me and our Church Health Team Leader, which right is Brian Stellar for this first two years. Some of us will be contacting you, just as I said, you may not even realize you're on the list. What you can anticipate is, if you're going to move forward you need to have around 20 active members. You need to have an approved set of bylaws, and Boyd Powers, our Secretary and Treasurer here for the state can help with that. Then there is a process. There is a document that has to be filled out. We're going to help you with that. You can contact us in advance. You have to have the ability to govern yourself, which really means that you have enough qualified leaders to meet your own bylaw requirements. That's really what that means.

We're going to be going through the state in the rest of '20, and even into '21, and we're going to be setting up meetings so that we can explain everything possible to change that status. We just want the healthiest opportunity for our church that we can possibly provide. If there are any questions, of course they can contact me or my assistant, Valerie, here at the office. We'll have the information for them.

[Bill Wilson]

Well, thanks, Lee, for all you're doing in the network. Thanks to all of you who serve on the front lines of our churches in this most unusual time. This is an opportunity, and we're grateful to be able to serve you all. We'll look forward to seeing how this develops, and most of our churches will become healthier and stronger than ever before. God bless you.

Oregon Ministry Network

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