2021 Tactical Plan

Posted Dec 17, 2020

2021 Tactical Plan – Strategic Planning in Action

Larry Worthen

CMDA Canada recently conducted a strategic planning process facilitated by Dr Gene Rudd, former Vice president of CMDA in the United States. It was a prayerful process of discernment of the Lord’s will for our organization. It began with a survey of all of our members in which 208 of you responded. This process produced a mission, vision and values statement and also described the Key Result Areas that staff were asked to focus on in the coming year. A full description of these results can be found in the September issue of FOCUS. Members are welcome to provide feedback on the work to date at office@cmdacanada.org. Executive Director Larry Worthen was asked by the Board to develop a tactical plan which was approved by the Board at their November meeting. The following article describes this tactical plan and encourages members to get involved in implementing the plan in your community so that CMDA Canada can become all that God has called us to be in the months and years ahead. 

There is both change and consistency in following Christ. On the one hand, we are called to embark on innovative new ways of doing things to respond to the developments in the world around us, and, are cautioned to not put “new wine into old wineskins”. (Mt. 9:16-17) On the other hand, we are reminded that the message of eternal life in Christ is the same “yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb. 13:7-9) A good tactical plan respects the commitments of the past while preparing for the challenges of the future. CMDA Canada holds a special place in all of our hearts, and as stewards of this special gift from God it is vital that we seek His will as we chart a course for the future. 

It was fitting that a strategic plan should have been developed at this time. We are completing our 50th year in our organization which was founded in 1970. A lot has changed since then in society, in medical and dental education, and in practice. We might have suspected, but would never have foreseen the intensity of the challenges to our faith, and on our freedom to practice, that have emanated from the secular movements in our society.

The Board of Directors and staff also were involved in governance training helping us to know the dividing line between Board and staff responsibilities. In this model we have adopted, the Board sets the direction, the staff develop and execute the plan to get there. The Board then evaluates the results at the end of the year and sets key result areas for the following year. But in order for this plan to work we will need member buy in and participation. The staff cannot implement the plan on their own. We already have many dedicated members who are committed to furthering the ministry of CMDA Canada in their community. We need more people to come forward to help in this way. We hope when you read the following description you will get excited about the future prospects of CMDA Canada and want to provide some of your valuable time to helping us flourish under the Lord’s watchful eye and protection.

Grassroots Local Engagement 

In our membership survey, we discovered that over 87% of members listed fellowship opportunities (in person and online) as a priority for CMDA Canada. In fact, around 60% of survey respondents said they joined CMDA Canada during medical and dental school, because of past experience with CMDA Student Ministry. One of the reasons for the continuing success of our student ministry programming is that there are regular opportunities for fellowship, spiritual growth, and small group discussion. While this would ideally continue after graduation, not every member lives near their meeting location for their Chapter and in addition not all Chapters have regular meetings. 

These results leave us with a challenge – on the one hand members indicate that fellowship is important – on the other hand they don’t always take action to make the opportunities happen. This has been a phenomenon that I have observed over the last eight years at CMDA Canada. At one point we even set up Facebook groups for members who indicated they wanted fellowship. But none of the groups ever met to our knowledge. 

There are a few theories as to why this might be happening. First, you are all very busy. Actually, that is an understatement. Many of you are in crisis mode a lot of the time – between professional expectations (which are unreasonable), family commitments, church, and extended family there is not a lot of time left over for you and for you and God. COVID-19 has made this worse for many of you. Second, not all of you have the desire or special charism required to call people together and keep a group going. Third, if I may say so, you are people who are so altruistic in giving to others, you often short change your own needs. CMDA Canada has the potential to minister and nurture that part of you that is both Christian and professional. Fourth, many of you make very “clinical” decisions about where you are going to invest your time which is your most precious commodity. Many of you make these calculations quickly, as part of your survival. It means that the CMDA Canada group must be a good use of your time, or you will just not go – voting with your feet. Finally, I have heard many of you say that geography stands in the way – after a long day at work the last thing you want to do is drive from one neighbourhood in Toronto to another or drive from Portage La Prairie to Winnipeg and back.

How can we do this together? We have a small national staff and a big country; how can we help you from a distance? But when I hear from those of you who are organizing meetings I always think, “How wonderfully giving you are!” You who are organizing are giving your “widow’s mite” from your most precious commodity – your time. 

So as a result we are looking at a number of options to help you: 

Possible expansion of the role of Associate Staff to assist with graduate ministry as well, when time and resources permit and a consensus exists among students and graduates that this would be beneficial. This is already happening in many communities and when appropriate could include expansion of Associate staff’s hours underwritten by local fundraising. I must stress that this will not be appropriate everywhere, but where there is a consensus among students, graduates and the Associate staff we are willing to look at it. Interested communities should contact the Executive Director to discuss.

Members coming forward who are interested in facilitating a group in their community, who are then trained by National office if necessary. 

Programs made available from outside sources, or developed by national office, or by specific chapters made available for use across the country.

Hybrid Zoom and in person meetings to allow the personal connection as well as long distance access, even after COVID-19 loosens its grip on our society.   

Students and graduate doctors and dentists have never been busier, and their faith has never faced such challenges. We will need to develop opportunities for refreshment, fellowship and learning that are accessible and worthwhile. It is in these brief encounters that CMDA Canada will have its greatest impact. Our goal is to invest in helping Chapters and other small groups so that they can further grow their roles as hubs for members, both online and in person. Meetings would consist of fellowship, content presentation, small group discussion and prayer.

We have some experience in doing this, but we need to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to expand this ministry.  In some ways we are entering into the unknown. However, since this is what our strategic planning process discerned, we have faith that this is Christ’s will for us. We will need to all work together to change our course. Do we hear Jesus calling, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch”? Luke 5:4 Please pray that CMDA Canada will continue to grow to ensure that every medical professional who needs a Christian medical professional community has one.

Cultural Impact 

CMDA Canada has been involved in various types of cultural engagement since its formation 50 years ago. Our advocacy work has been a pillar of our ministry for the last several years. It is clear that members feel that this is important work and want us to continue to be involved. We will continue to advocate for conscience protection at the provincial level and against the further expansion of euthanasia nationally. 

As we engaged in advocacy with churches and individual Christians across Canada, it became clear that we are uniquely positioned as an organization to help our fellow Christians understand what is at stake in the complex medical ethical issues that are arising in today’s environment. In our most recent advocacy against the expansion of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, educational videos have played a key and emerging role. We are realizing that many Canadian Christians do not have the benefit of solid teaching on these issues, whether from a sound biblical perspective or from the foundation of the traditional teaching of the Christian church.  With the onslaught of messages supporting practices that run contrary to scripture and traditional Christian moral teaching, we need a contrary voice to shore up support for a message that is increasingly becoming countercultural. 

The connections we have made through our advocacy work gives us a growing audience of Christians from across Canada who can be informed and empowered to speak out alongside us on issues of Christian moral and ethical issues. The materials we develop will be included on our website and shared in the broader Christian community.

Spiritual Growth 

As medical and dental professionals, we know how important it is to be a life-long learner. While the fellowship-based meetings will address some of these needs, we acknowledge the benefit of offering programming geared towards specific growth areas for members across Canada.  We have already begun with a pilot program of one of the many resources we have researched that have the potential of a positive impact in the lives of members. This fall, the National Office brought in a special facilitator to host the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course for a diverse group of members. Two reflections on this course are offered on pages 6 and 7 of this issue of FOCUS. The response to this program has been encouraging. 

By offering programming accessible to members nationwide, we have the opportunity to bring in more specialized materials and to meet the key needs and areas of interest for more members. We can also bring in experts to assist us in delivering fresh and exciting content. Many of our local Chapters and student ministries are already innovators in this regard and we hope to collaborate with Chapters to share their content nationwide. Zoom has become second nature for many of us during the pandemic and will be a useful tool to facilitate robust access to discipleship opportunities  

We want this process to be member driven and, with that in mind, we are in the process of forming a focus group to assist our National Office staff determine what programs are of interest and what speakers would ensure our content is relevant to the current needs of the membership. 

Organizational Capacity 

CMDA Canada has spent the last 50 years growing and expanding – and with that growth and expansion comes the need to become creative in how we reach out to members and keep them engaged. Our goal is to make it easier for members to get engaged in CMDA Canada and stay engaged, knowing that the National Office staff are there to support them wherever possible. 

One of the largest gaps for engagement in membership is the period between graduation and the end of residency. In one of the most chaotic periods of their professional career, new graduates often move and get so busy that we don’t hear from them for years. Another key group are students who attend during university who don’t formalize their membership with us before they leave for residency. We often hear through member applications from graduates that they had participated as students but were only officially joining later in life. 

While this can feel unavoidable in the hectic seasons of any medical or dental professional’s life, we feel that it is important to stay connected so that no one gets left behind or lost when they are in need of fellowship, support, and encouragement. Having access to a community that has a shared experience can be one of the most powerful means to help maintain faith throughout trying times. 

To ensure we maintain contact with as many of the students we encounter through our student ministry, we have developed strategies to ensure we invite students to membership and also connect them with their new Chapter should they move for residency. 

We will also develop a suite of resources so that our members can more easily invite their peers – to events like our fellowship groups our national programming our retreats and conference, and to become members. 

All of these initiatives seek to honour the discernment of our members and the Board, while also acknowledging why CMDA Canada has endured as a fruitful and Spirit driven organization for 50 years. We are blessed to build upon the firm foundation of our founding members, whose dedication to the Kingdom underlies everything we do as an organization.