By Kara Witherow, Editor
In a meeting with South Georgia Conference leaders held at Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Macon on Thursday, November 10, Bishop James R. King, Jr. introduced a two-fold plan to help redirect, streamline and focus the Conference.
Called “Project Turnaround,” Bishop King’s plan will help leaders look at the Conference’s finances, personnel and ministries from a disciple-making standpoint.
“We’re in a financial crisis,” he said. “But this financial crisis can be a wonderful opportunity for us to look at the South Georgia Conference and, rather than just focusing on the financial aspect, focus on the budget as a whole and how it relates to making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The goal of Project Turnaround, Bishop King said, is to help the Conference grow a Christlike world by focusing on the immediate financial issues.
“We are going to focus on the things that really, really matter to God and to us as Christians,” he said. “Once we do that we will become more efficient, God will bless us and God will grow the Church through our faithfulness.”
Passionate about the Church’s disciple-making mission and how the Conference should move forward, Bishop King believes that decisions should be made based on a holistic plan rather than just cutting for financial reasons.
Instead of “cutting back” on funding, ministries and personnel, he proposes that the focus should be on “pruning forward.”
“I want to make sure, if we are going to do some cutting, that we prune forward. Cutting back just addresses the crisis without a plan, but when you prune something you are cutting to grow so something good will happen in the future.”
As part of his Project Turnaround plan, Bishop King has brought in consultant Dr. Randy Capps, the president and founder of Leadership Strategies Group. With more than 20 years in the consulting and training field, Dr. Capps’ expertise is in executive coaching, facilitating organizational redesign, and in implementing employee communication systems. Having attended the November meeting, Dr. Capps will consult the Conference and help leaders build a comprehensive plan driven by Bishop King’s vision of being a disciple-making Conference.
According to Bishop King, the Conference’s 2012 budget of approximately $11.7 million, approved at the 2011 Annual Conference session, is not realistic. Based on the past few years’ giving patterns, a more realistic revenue-driven budget should be created.
Bishop King referenced Luke 9:13, which chronicles Jesus’ feeding a crowd of 5,000 people. In the passage, the disciples say to Jesus, “… We have only five loaves of bread and two fish …”
Jesus took what they had and was able to feed the crowd, with 12 basketfuls of leftovers.
“We need to have a ‘we have only’ budget,” Bishop King said. “We need to take what we have, place it before the limitless power of God, look at our resources … and then organize ourselves efficiently. That’s what Jesus did.”
Stage one of Bishop King’s Project Turnaround plan consists of developing a more streamlined, “lean and efficient” revenue-based budget. Stage two involves introducing that plan at the 2012 Annual Conference session, presenting the comprehensive Project Turnaround plan - including recommendations from the new District Study task force – and potentially reconfiguring Conference staff.
Through it all, Bishop King says that the focus should always remain on making disciples for the transformation of the world.
“Our goal is to become a disciple-making Conference,” he said. “To do that means the assessment and management of financial and human resources. We need to ask ourselves, ‘how does this help make disciples of Jesus Christ?’”