Fresh Hope Conference Executive this week informed staff and church leaders across the Fresh Hope movement that Andrew Ball has decided not to take up another contract term as Executive Ministry Director.
Andrew has been a part of Churches of Christ in Australia for 33 years and in his role as EMD in NSW/ACT for 18 years. He has overseen remarkable change and growth during that time. Andrew’s final day serving as EMD will be on Wednesday 23 December 2020, after which he will be on long service leave until his contract ends on Sunday 31 January 2021.
Andrew reflects on his decision and on the immediate future of Fresh Hope in this interview.
M&M: You have been leading Fresh Hope as Executive Director for the past 18 years. What has prompted your decision to step down from this role at this time?
Andrew: When I came to the role in 2003, there were lots of broken pieces and Fresh Hope was at the crossroads. I came with a very clear ‘change mandate’ and always thought in the back of my mind that it would take 10 years to fix Fresh Hope. I never imagined that God would have me in situ for 18 years, but basically my decision is based on two things; namely—I did what I was asked to do; and it’s time to now allow a new leader to take the helm and steer the next course.
Do you have another position or role you plan to take up?
As a spiritual leader, I have always taught others to ‘hold things lightly’. So, I embrace my future without another position at the ready, trusting God that he will open the right door. I would feel conflicted if I was serving now knowing that I am ready to jump into a new assignment; it could be a distraction. I am motivated to finish well and do whatever I am asked to serve Fresh Hope in this season. The next season for me will look somewhat different. I have lots of expertise and experience in ministry and have some personal desires to help serve other denominational leaders as well offering my gifts into this movement going forward. If anything, there are lots of options running through my strategic mind and I’m trying not to invest too much just yet.
In terms of the timing of this announcement, what was your motivation behind announcing it sooner rather than later?
We all know that each year seems to fly by and so given it’s now May, I wanted to make sure that everyone involved in this decision has sufficient time to process my departure and plan for a vital future. It was important for me to honour Conference Executive and allow strategic time for them to consider succession planning and communication processes going forward. It is also important for me to have time to celebrate with colleagues and churches over the coming months. A transition either creates a void or an opportunity. I see this next 6 months as a strategic opportunity to lead on and finalise some important projects still needing attention.
How is Fresh Hope positioned for this transition?
Fresh Hope is in an incredible position to serve our churches and agencies going forward. Despite the unprecedented challenges of the last few months, we have a repository of incredible resources in staff, facilities and opportunities. In many ways I have never felt more excited by our future as our teams work tirelessly to serve those across our movement in all kinds of places. The five strategic horizon themes for Fresh Hope will launch us into a future of more change and opportunity – both good things. We have a key succession team which has been meeting for several months exploring the recruitment process for my successor as well as a ‘governance team’ which is looking at future changes to our operations into the new year. In addition, we have ramped up our communications and organisational development teams, plus sharpened our service offerings to proactive assist churches.
What happens next?
As the peak governing body, Conference Executive and our Directors have engaged recruitment consultants to assist Fresh Hope in the search for the new EMD. They have also taken the opportunity, with my design input and that of external consultants, to redesign the key accountabilities of the new EMD role and broader organisational governance in order to position Fresh Hope for it’s next season. They will keep you informed about the progress in the coming months.
What will change in Fresh Hope after this announcement and in the months until you step down?
We will do all that we can to continue to serve our churches, their leaders and our agencies. In summary it is ministry ‘beyond usual’ as we proactively check in and support where we can. I also have some important projects (apart from saying farewell) that I believe are critical for the future of our movement. These include initiating our Redress Scheme responses to appropriately respond to victims of sexual abuse across our movement in NSW and the ACT. I am also passionate about our Pioneering strategy to seed more new faith communities. For those churches who have participated in the ‘Transformational Church Project’ I am committed to finalise the re-writing of the curriculum for this course. Finally, I am convinced we need to imbed ‘innovation’ much more firmly into our operations going forward. The COVID-19 season will linger most likely longer than we expect. Therefore, we need to encourage one another to be more agile and adaptive in this season. Our world has changed and will continue to change with some tough challenges still to emerge. Fresh Hope will (has) adopted a posture of generosity in this season making grants available to churches and offering ongoing zoom conferences to assist and listen and respond. It’s a busy and important time for Fresh Hope!