Bishop Sauls on being a CEO and being CMO (Chief Missionary Officer)

Bishop Stacy Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington has been named by the Presiding Bishop to be the next Chief Operating Officer for the Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service reported the appointment yesterday.  His appointment is welcome news and I believe he will do an excellent job.

Bishop Sauls is a missionary minded Bishop, and one on whom the CEO model of episcopacy does not sit easily. His photograph on the web pages of the Diocese show him in non-clergical garb, looking more like someone's caring and colorful uncle than a prince of the church.

He will be Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Episcopal Church, thereby having primary responsibility for the way in which staff of the Episcopal Church Center and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society carry out their work. The field of operation is mission,  something that is often not well understood.

Bishop Sauls had something to say about all this in his Diocesan Convention address delivered February 15th at the 115th Diocesan convention in Lexington. Here is an excerpt:

 "So what do bishops do when they are liberated from being princes of the Church? Might it mean they are free to be apostles again? Might it mean they are free to stop being Chief Executive Officers and start being Chief Missionary Officers? There is a big difference between the two.
• Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, are preoccupied with administration. Chief Missionary Officers, CMOs, should have little time for administration. They remain responsible for
it, but it is best delegated.
• CEOs are primarily concerned with finances. CMOs, I have learned, should have as little to with the finances as possible. The person who handles the finances must be accountable to the Bishop, but the Bishop should stay only indirectly involved if at all possible.

• CEOs are focused on controlling the ministry of others. CMOs are focused on supporting the ministry of others.
• CEOs are removed from the people. CMOs are among the people.
• CEOs deal with governance, oversight, and regulation. CMOs deal with the apostolic ministries of the teaching, forming, and sending of leaders.
• CEOs have fiduciary responsibility for the property. CMOs have fiduciary responsibility for the Gospel.
• CEOs have a tendency to be risk averse. CMOs have a greater tendency to be risktakers, perhaps because they have less to lose.
As we remember about God, bishops will be able to redefine their ministries to be what they always dreamed they would be. Few of us, I think, got into this in order to be CEOs."

(For those readers who see conspiracy behind everything that happens in the Church, we might note that the announcement that Linda Watt was resigning as COO was not made until March 18, 2011, a month after this address.)
The challenges Bishop Sauls faces in this new work of his are distinctly missionary in character. In order to take on this new work the House of Bishops must give him leave to resign his post as bishop of Lexington, a thing most easily granted if the resignation is for missionary purposes.  It would seem the Bishop has every missionary reason to take on this new work and test his theory of the idea of a Chief Missionary Officer.   We wish him well.

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