For the past year and a half, the Cabinet of the Central Texas Conference has been working with the Lencioni organization (The Table Group) in assimilating and implementing lessons from Lencioni’s bestselling book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. We have been seeking to do so in a manner that integrates such thinking with scriptural guidance and theological fidelity to the Wesleyan understanding of faithfulness. (Many of you might be aware that Patrick Lencioni is a very active practicing Roman Catholic and engages in such work with the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Our consultant, David Simpson, is a very active Southern Baptist layman and is likewise committed to integrating the insights of organizational health with Christian theology and practice.) In our recent Cabinet retreat we examined six critical questions. 1) Why do we exist? (Mission) 2) How do we behave? (Core Values) 3) What do we do? 4) How will we succeed? 5) What is most important right now? 6) Who must do what? Our focus was in particular on questions two and five. In a spirit of transparency and an invitation to join in reflection, I offer the following notes of our work. 1) Why do we exist? To energize and equip local churches to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” 2) How do we behave? (Core Values) i. Missional (service) ii. Christ-like community (worship, lifting up Christ, inclusive) iii. Engaging, grace-filled, witness [Evangelism] (new people new places, resurrection Jesus, reaching outside the walls) 3) What do we do? 4) How will we succeed? (Strategic Anchors; the anchors offer guidance for decision making. We are establishing a “word-smithing” team to refine wording and communication of our strategic anchors.) - Christ at the Center - Focus on the Local Church - Leadership Development 5) What is most important right now? 1. Increasing the number of vital congregations (the current Thematic goal) with five “Defining Objectives” (as follows): i. HCI (point guard = Gary Lindley) ii. Personal Evangelism & Witness (point guard = Carol Woods) iii. 30 new church in Risking Taking Mission with the Poor (point guard = Randy Wild) iv. Maintain and grow the number of 126+ (average worship attendance) churches (point guard = Bob Holloway) v. Lay and clergy leadership development & recruitment (point guard = Georgia Adamson) We committed to having at least a monthly check-in conversation where we are pointing to these five. I named “point guards” (drivers or champions) for each of the five defining objectives. Additionally we outlined some actions steps (some of which are already in process) Action steps for #5 re Evangelism/Witness: 1. Bob will visit with Board of Ministry with regard to candidates qualifying for ordination having the ability to tell their personal story of salvation. Individual DS’s will convey this concern to District Committees on Ministry. 2. Establish a “Task Force on Conference Evangelism” strategy – Bishop and Carol 3. The Cabinet will share with each other who they are evangelizing. Action steps for #5 re Leadership Development: 1. Continued Recruitment (Georgia) 2. Laity teaching module for local church (Kim Simpson and Kevin Walters are currently work on this project in conjunction with Georgia Adamson.) 3. Rewriting HCI curriculum (Gary) 4. Develop 10+ lay supply (part-time) preachers (Don) 5. Improving acculturation of newly ordained clergy for the first five years 6. Leadership succession planning (Bishop) 6) Who must do what? There is much thinking and praying that remains to be done to fully complete this work. And, in a larger sense, it is ongoing work which is never really finished but always in various stages of beginning and refining. Nonetheless, with Mr. Wesley we celebrate that the “best of all is that God is with us” (Matthew 28:16-20).