A framework for crafting and implementing a congregational strategy in the local congregations of the reformed churches of South Africa
Grobler, Aldeon Barend
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The church is not like any other institution or organisation in society. Although the church is primarily invisible and spiritual, it is a visible organisation in the world, and it spans across borders of nations, languages and countries. John Calvin strongly rejected the notion that the church is only a spiritual organisation of which the visible administrative side is downplayed. The fellowship of the church must not only be seen as a mystical relation with Jesus Christ. At the three-yearly synod of the GKSA, which was held in the year 2000, a report was tabled titled 'Preservation and Growth of the Church'. The report requested that all local congregations should develop and implement a congregational strategy that is applicable to their own unique environment. The congregational strategy's main purpose must be to guide the congregation to fulfil its biblical purpose. The fact that people are turning their backs on the traditional churches, including the GKSA who is losing about 2000 members per year, is an indication that it cannot be 'business as usual' for them in future. The purpose of this study is to design a framework for crafting and executing a congregational strategy for the local congregations of the GKSA. The study started with a literature study on the science of strategic management. This provided a theoretical foundation for the framework. Although the strategy of different organisations will differ vastly, the process to follow is much the same. The literature study indicated that the benefits of a well developed and executed organisational strategy are not limited to large profit making organisations, but is also useful to non-profit organisations such as government departments and church congregations. The literature study included a study on the essence and work of a congregation. The purpose of this part of the study was not to be a detailed theological study of the different views and types of church denominations, but only focused on the views of the GKSA. The literature study also tested the applicability of the strategic management theory on the nature and work of a congregation. An empirical study was performed in the congregations of the GKSA, which indicated that the majority of congregations do not have a congregational strategy. The main reason for not having a congregational strategy is that congregations do not have the knowledge and skills available to lead and facilitate the process of crafting and executing a congregational strategy. The empirical study also gathered best practices from congregations that are doing strategic management. These best practices were included in the proposed framework for crafting and executing a congregational strategy. The knowledge gained from the literature and empirical study was combined into a framework for crafting and executing a congregational strategy. This framework can be used by congregational leaders to guide them though their own process of crafting and executing their unique congregational strategy. The research concludes with a recommendation that the Theological School of the GKSA should consider including a course on strategic management in the training syllabus of aspiring ministers. The course should be developed specifically taking into account the background and circumstances of the GKSA, and should not be generic like the course that is included in the Baccalaureus Commercii curriculum. Because of the fast changing environment of the 21st century, the course should also be condensed and be presented to ministers already called in congregations. Because strategic management is a specialised management science, and external Strategic Management consultants tend to be expensive, the research also made the recommendation that the Administrative Bureau of the GKSA consider employing their own Strategic Management consultant for the GKSA with the specific assignment to assist and guide all congregations with their congregational strategy.
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