Neither the beginning nor the end!

published on 2 Mar 2015

After a series of defeats for Britain – from Dunkirk to Singapore – Generals Alexander and Montgomery had driven back Field Marshall Rommel’s forces at El Alamein, thus winning what Winston Churchill called The Battle of Egypt. He could finally declare to the House of Commons: “We have a new experience. We have victory – a remarkable and definite victory.”

Placing that victory in the wider context of the ongoing war, Churchill went on to make a pronouncement, which has become one of his most well-known statements: “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

For the past two and a half years, this territory has been engaged in a review called Fit for Mission (FFM). At its inception, the then Territorial Commander described his expectation of its outcome as being a much stronger focus on mission and programme from respective headquarters’ teams. This would facilitate the fulfilling of our missional objectives to ‘save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity’ by significantly reducing the burden of administration and eliminating duplication and unnecessary bureaucracy. The review would seek to appropriate our administrative structure effectively to support, resource and empower people in mission. Therefore, FFM was to be more about mission priorities and less about financial considerations, although financial prudence was vital.

Arriving in the territory soon after the start of the review, I can confirm that the process has been an arduous but exciting – and frustrating, yet stimulating – journey.

I recognise that, for the vast majority, FFM is a vague and little-understood process and that there are many questions about its objectives and progress. The lack of detailed information is challenging, but necessary – we want to respect the consultative process that is an important component of sound and lawful HR practice. We have devised an information timeline so that consultation and appropriate discussion can take place before we announce the outcomes of FFM, but we are not ready as yet for such an announcement.

However, I have become aware that some have expectations of such an announcement being made at the Social Services Conference taking place this week (Monday 2 March to Thursday 5 March). So, to be clear, we are not at a stage in the process where detailed information about the various FFM projects and final conclusions can be disseminated. I can promise that the announcement will be made as soon as we are able to do so.

This brings me to the news of the impending launch of the TIDE initiative (see here for further information) at the Social Services Conference and the subsequent rolling out of that initiative throughout the territory later this month. How is it connected to FFM and why are we launching it if FFM outcomes cannot, and will not, be shared at this stage?

Part of the initial FFM process revealed the need for a centralised, all-encompassing missional strategic plan that would be a foundation for the territory’s future mission, forming the basis of all we are and do while simultaneously providing a broad framework for future strategic thinking, impact measurement and decision-making throughout the territory, regardless of one’s area of ministry.

The TIDE initiative evolved after extensive consultation, discussion and the subsequent collation of all we had heard. The initiative is a description of the strategic missional priorities I am calling the territory to rally around in the immediate future. But, while TIDE is an integral – indeed, a fundamental – part of FFM, it is independent of it, since the application of this initiative is not dependent on the completion of the rest of the FFM process. (Conversely, FFM cannot be implemented without the TIDE initiative being solidly in place!) Its focus is mission – what will be our objectives as we engage in mission – and the TIDE response to those questions must be worked out and lived out regardless of the changes being considered in the FFM process.

TIDE becomes the first complete – as opposed to completed – outcome of the FFM process. We are on track with the rest of the process and I appeal for patience and prayer as we move towards completion as projected. To (mis)quote Churchill: ‘The launch of TIDE is not the end, nor the end of the beginning – it is the beginning of the end, but only of the process – not the work that needs to be done!’

The TIDE is now flowing – I encourage you to plunge in!