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Structures in the 1970s

Summary: This article reviews the 1974 separation between our International HQ (IHQ) and our USHQ, though it is more concerned with our field structure, it explains the subsequent alignment of our divisional directors as a team committed to working with the president in forwarding our overall or global mission. The move away from Management by Objectives and the simplifying of our policies are noted. As the decade progressed, we began to push towards deeper participation and cooperation, internationally


Organizational Structures in the 1970s
Diverse Visions of Global Expansion
Formation of the International Leadership Team (ILT)
Sanny’s View of Planning
Grappling with Policies

Organizational Structures in the 1970s

Jack Mayhall was instrumental in the design of a new central structure for the leadership of The Navigators during 1974. It has persisted through many adjustments.

The problem that concerned Lorne Sanny at the time is that he had two divergent responsibilities: He was still US director, yet he was also president of our global work. The kinds of decisions required differed in scale and complexity. To clarify the confusion, it was necessary to separate the emerging International Headquarters (IHQ, responsible for worldwide leadership) from the team responsible for leading the US Navigators. Mayhall understood this well. He decided to limit IHQ to those who were giving at least 80 percent of their time to the work outside the USA.1 The remainder were classified as part of USHQ.

For example, Bob Hopkins was personnel administrator. His responsibilities were almost entirely focused on the placing and tracking of American missionaries outside the US, so he stayed in what became IHQ. Jerry Bridges, on the other hand, handled financial administration as secretary–treasurer of the US corporation, so he moved into USHQ.

The scope of this adjustment shows in the remarkable reduction of the IHQ from 122 positions in May 1974 to only fifteen in June 1975! Most of those released from IHQ were placed in US administrative services.

This rough–and–ready separation of the two HQs began to work surprisingly well. It helped that, for the first few months, Mayhall continued as Sanny’s executive vice president with oversight of both embryonic units. Also, around this time, USHQ moved out of the old power plant into the office space above the maintenance shops at the Glen, so the mental break was aided by physical separation.

On the US side, a further division was made between administrative HQ under Bob Stephens and corporate HQ under Jerry Bridges and Rod Sargent (vice president of development).2

President’s Office: Sanny and Jim Downing

Executive VP: Mayhall

IHQ: Leroy Eims, George Sanchez, and Bob Hopkins

USHQ: Bob Stephens, Jerry Bridges, Rod Sargent

The field structure continued with four geographic divisions, still formally responsible to Sanny but with an expectation that Mayhall, as executive vice president, would coordinate and coach their work:

USA: Skip Gray
Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMA): Doug Sparks
Pacific Areas (PAN): Joe Simmons
Latin America (LAN): Jim Petersen

This kind of arrangement proved to be awkward in that Mayhall felt that he had been given responsibility without authority. He struggled with this.

Mayhall felt the need to acquire an international administrator in order to analyze and harmonize the work of the four divisions, but with particular attention to the ministries outside the USA. He invited Donald McGilchrist, who had served for five years as the administrator of the EMA division, to fill this slot. McGilchrist arrived early in 1976. He happened to be the first non-American to serve in IHQ3 and thus began the physical “internationalizing” of that unit.

McGilchrist’s preliminary work focused on:

  • Simplifying policies and procedures
  • Reducing the flows of information requested by IHQ
  • Shaping the agenda for international meetings
  • Managing our overall planning and assessment process

By 1975, the leadership roster was becoming simpler. Personnel Director Walt Henrichsen had left in 1973 to establish his own teaching ministry, and Waldron Scott, while still on staff, had begun a master’s degree at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. Mayhall had replaced Skip Gray as the US director. Leroy Eims was out of the line of field leaders and developing a very fruitful traveling evangelistic ministry.

When the divisional directors met with Sanny in London, in April 1975, they gave attention to the emergence of IHQ. First, they recognized the stresses that accompany growth, both organic and organizational. “Terms such as decentralization, autonomy, indigeneity, and culture are frequently used in Navigator circles. . . . The ministry is growing worldwide . . . [and such trends] could lead to fragmentation . . . [even] to autonomous units within a loose Navigator federation.”4

In response, the four divisional directors agreed that they intended to function as a global team. That is, to share their resources of men and money, guided by global priorities and strategic needs, to labor together toward common objectives. Therefore, “there must be a focal point of global perspective.” While the divisional directors functioned with Sanny as the worldwide leadership team of The Navigators, IHQ would service “those functions which the president wants to maintain himself and those functions which can only be done through his office.” It was felt necessary to note that “the need for a staff at international headquarters is for the sole purpose of providing support for the president and his team in carrying out the global objectives of The Navigators.”

The underlying dynamic was a trade-off. On the one hand, as seen above, the divisional directors wanted to ensure that Sanny’s staff team did not take over the functions that they performed as our senior field leaders. On the other hand, it was becoming clear that operating as a “global team” meant that they should more intently collaborate for the good of the overall work. They could no longer merely represent their divisions.

Diverse Visions of Global Expansion

The early 1970s had been marked by vigorous debate. Disagreements often centered on the high demand for new missionaries, which in practice meant Americans. “A Strategy for the 70s,” presented in 1972, went well beyond what Sanny had invited Waldron Scott to draft.

As regards our planning posture, Sanny wanted us to grow into rather than go into new countries. He looked for a natural organic process of expansion, taking care to “strengthen the stakes” concurrently with “lengthening the cords” (Isaiah 54:1-3). In contrast, Scott was convinced that God would have us establish a very challenging target to reach in say ten years, and then strain every muscle towards achieving it.

In general, as instanced by the separation described between IHQ and USHQ, we did not merely engage in a linear extrapolation of our structure. One curious exception had occurred when Doug Sparks was asked to present to the divisional directors in June 1973 a structure5 to handle the anticipated growth projected in the “Strategy for the 70s.” The essence of his response was as follows:

As of September 1972, The Navigators had 185 representatives with some eight hundred staff in support and back-up roles for a total of about nine hundred.

By August 1982, we project 1085 representatives. With a four-to-one ratio this will take four thousand plus in support and back-up roles for a total of about six thousand including representatives. Keeping efficiently organized administratively will require several high level administrative positions. Our ten-year corporate objectives call for building up a staff of ten divisional directors and eighty regional directors by August 1982.

Needless to say, there was no record of any serious attempt to develop eighty regional directors. It was merely a statistical exercise to help uncover one implication of our target.

By 1976, there were powerful centrifugal forces at work: We had discarded the numerical objectives of the global strategy but had not yet replaced them with what came to be called the Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry.

Though we would not have expressed it so clearly, we were launched into a period of reduced strategy, policy, and hierarchy; and we were increasingly lifting up vision, values, relationships.

Formation of the International Leadership Team (ILT)

In December 1976, the divisional directors revisited alternative ways to organize internationally such as franchising each country or loosening our ties into a merely fraternal relationship or, in the opposite direction, a rigid centralization. Conclusion: Despite the pressure of centrifugal forces, we will continue as a global team. None of these alternatives was seen as superior to the simple but challenging concept of growing into a global team.

During this discussion,6 Sanny made an important statement: “I can no longer carry responsibility for the tone, image, and form of the Nav ministry.” It would certainly be more productive, he argued, to train and activate our central core of Representatives which, at that time, was around three hundred men7 and thirty women in more than thirty countries. He declared that our representatives should be those who are “gifted, called, dedicated, disciplined, trained and (normally) mobile.” Even at the cost of losing some of them, we had to give wise and forceful leadership to our representatives.8

Thus, in order to function effectively, we would need a guiding group which in 1975 had become the embryonic International Leadership Team (ILT).9 Making a distinction between the team as a body and as individuals, the December 1976 ILT agreed that the team would:

  • Discuss together and teach separately
  • Evaluate together and act separately

This would work “because we hold to the conviction that there are concepts which can be successfully applied anywhere in the world.” Here, we see again the shift from geographical leaders charged with maximizing the progress of our ministries in their divisions to collaborative leaders assisting Sanny as a true team in which each leader called upon and contributed to others as needed.

As the ILT came into focus as a partnership of our senior field leaders around Sanny, we laid out some expectations. The team should:

  • Contain our chief “influencers”
  • Give conceptual and biblical leadership
  • Lead out in prayer, example, teaching, and discipline

By moving some of the responsibility from Sanny to those on the team that he led, he was consciously preparing for continued expansion and growing complexity. They had acquired a collegial responsibility, a shared commitment. The purpose of the ILT was simply “to assist the president in the leadership of our worldwide ministries.”10

This was a conceptual breakthrough. By agreeing that they were an International Leadership Team (ILT), the divisional directors subordinated their individual responsibilities for their own divisions to their collective responsibility, led by Sanny, for the entire work. When they came to the meeting, IHQ was responsible for “identifying global strategic needs and formulating guideline objectives and plans to meet them” and, when they left the meeting, this had become a collegial responsibility which the divisional directors shared.

Thus, the role of IHQ was directly related to the job description of the president whose purpose was “to lead The Navigators toward accomplishing our Aim and objectives.” The distinction between the ILT and IHQ was expressed as follows:

  • The ILT assists and advises Sanny in the ministry leadership of The Navigators; it is mainly composed of line leaders.
  • IHQ assists and advises Sanny in the administration of The Navigators; it is mainly composed of staff specialists. However, it also contains a “ministry resource” group.

The structure was now Sanny as president plus Mayhall as executive vice president plus four divisional directors who reported to Sanny:

USA: Skip Gray
EMA: Doug Sparks
PAN: Joe Simmons
LAN: Jim Petersen

Jim Downing continued as deputy to the president, responsible for special projects, and George Sanchez took on international counseling. Provision was made for an international administrator, an assignment which McGilchrist accepted. He moved from our EMA division to our IHQ in March 1976.

Sanny was pleased. The top leaders in The Navigators had agreed that they should: function as partners, sharing resources of men and money; be guided by global priorities and strategic needs; labor together toward common objectives. For this to happen, “there must be a focal point of global perspective.” Geographically, this was where the president was based but, mentally, this flowed out of the counsel and contributions of the divisional directors.

There was naturally some overlap of personnel and functions between the ILT and IHQ: Both existed, in one sense, to bring the president’s ability to perform up to the level of his responsibility to perform. However, it would prove helpful to remember that IHQ was only a staff advisory group.

Mayhall commented that the ILT intention was “to support Sanny by ‘thinking globally’ as a team, feeding in significant information from various viewpoints and reaching consensus. During the last year, the ILT had functioned with an unusual unity and sense of purpose. . . .”11

Sanny’s Views of Planning

One can detect the turbulence that had marked the early 1970s by quoting one of the priorities that Sanny set for himself in 1975: “To moderate the selection and development of our top leadership and the stabilization of all Navigator personnel.” At the center, it was a time for “strengthening the stakes” although at the periphery there was still a vibrant pursuit of “lengthening the cords” (Isaiah 54:2-3).

Navigator leaders had been through a ferment of debate as to how they should be organized. This was mitigated by Sanny’s steady insistence that his priority was to clarify, communicate, and maintain our purpose. He knew that the process of planning was as important as the plan that emerged: “Plan with people, not for people” came out of our discouraging experience with having centrally decided what our countries should produce, especially in terms of numerical targets.

He also realized that, for example, our 1970 plan12 was only a list of ambitious objectives. So, in early 1975, he wrote that “you have planned when there exists a clear statement of objectives and a workable program to accomplish them.”

In his methodical way, Sanny set down on paper his rationale for planning.13 Navigators should plan:

  • To make sure we know where we are going
  • To make better use of men, money, and opportunities
  • To aid in making today’s decisions that have a significant impact tomorrow
  • To provide a basis for performance evaluation
  • To make possible coordinated effort with the larger team
  • To provide a vehicle for participation and communication

We can capture the speed of change in those few years as a marked shift to:

  • Consult and cooperate, rather than announce
  • Bring those affected into the process
  • Start with what you have, rather than work back from an (often inflated) projection

What were the points of tension?

  • Demand for US resources (people and money) far exceeded supply
  • “Detached” evaluation, largely numerical, with little allowance for diversity of contexts
  • Jostling among Sanny’s divisional directors, whom he labored to forge into a unified team14

Each divisional director was responsible for the productivity of our ministries within his continent. He managed the staff in his geographical sphere, even if they had come as cross-cultural missionaries from another continent. All the staff in a country—whether expatriates or nationals—were expected to operate as an integrated unit, guided by their country leader and his plan.

At a local level, where the harvest awaits, it usually helped forge a unity and concentration of effort. The benefits of being “of one accord” (homothumadon: fourteen times in Acts) were obvious. Yet, in the climate of the 1970s, it brought into focus some recurrent tensions.

First, we recall that “A Strategy for the 70s” had zeroed in on positioning more than production: the assumption was that, if we had a sufficiency of staff in position around the world by a certain date, local energy would take care of our productivity in the grassroots. Therefore, it was imperative for each targeted country to secure quality staff as soon as they could. Hence, an inbuilt competition for the “best” people!

Apart from the centrifugal forces, which were often appropriately cultural and contextual, our leaders were observing “an increasing disrespect for anything concrete” which reflected in part the pressure for numerical productivity that we had imposed. Numerical projections were still routinely being made, but “we took note of the almost universal tendency for forecasts built up from grassroots sources to be unduly optimistic.”15 This, of course, could either flow from an abundance of faith or from an amateurish approach to statistics. Borrowing the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 10, what was needed was a zeal based on knowledge.

Though our staff was still growing and our coverage was still spreading, it was clear by 1976 that the raising up of new disciple-makers, a crucial distinctive, had become static. Why? As the team saw it, some of our line leaders were increasingly occupied with what we described as “managerialism” yet there was often an absence of useful projections or targets. Furthermore, the rapid growth of the community ministries, in which assessment was inherently more diffuse, had drawn some resources into less immediately measurable contexts.

How should we proceed? It was becoming clear that we needed to root a new generation firmly in the pursuit of the essence of Navigator ministry. Since 1961, our focus had been to “demonstrate producing reproducers.” The language changed slightly as we spoke of disciple-makers and then of laborers. However, fresh words alone were now inadequate. Hence, the birth of the project which became known as the Fundamentals of our Navigator Ministry.

Grappling with Policies

During the late 1960s, Sanny had adopted much of the processes summed up as Management by Objectives. Resistance had been quite strong. We were realizing, also, that only the most general objectives can form an umbrella over our entire worldwide ministries.

More recently, we had worked in terms of management by exception. However, as Sanny ruefully admitted in 1976, the problem with this approach was that we were drawn to becoming problem-centered. Also, there was the temptation to lay down a policy merely to fend off an exception.16

How had this impacted our policies?

In the 1950s, we had written down our policies. Naturally, they reflected our American experience, and the requirements of the US legal and financial environment.

They were largely a catalogue of what should not be permitted. Indeed, it was sometimes claimed, with a certain humor, that in quite a few cases a general policy marked the gravestone of a particular act by a staff person!

Policies during the 1960s had been mainly financial. In 1968, Jerry Bridges assembled the policies and procedures that had accumulated, as well as the “general philosophy” from which they emerged.17 This appears to be the first overall statement of the rules followed by our international finance board.

It was not until 1974 that our personnel policies were disentangled from our financial policies. Henrichsen edited the former and Bridges the latter.

These international personnel policies comprised forty-eight statements, of which fifteen were supported by detailed procedures.18 They were noteworthy in that Henrichsen wrote a lengthy preface expounding why policies are needed as an organization becomes an “institution.” He laid down that policies foster communication, consensus, efficiency, control and, finally, protect vested interests. This reflected his precision and insistence on unambiguous clarity.

One of the most strategic of these policies was also one of the simplest: We will recruit and grow our own staff (3.01.1(d)).

These policies and procedures covered five general areas:

  • Definition of staff19
  • International assignments of Representatives
  • Other Navigator staff
  • Furloughs
  • Orientation

Issued with these policies were spiritual profiles (for Navigator disciples and disciple-makers) and organizational requisites (for trainees, contact staff, Representatives, area directors, country openers, girls’ workers, and women Representatives).

The distinction was helpful: What we desired (profiles) from the fruit of our ministry as compared with what we required (requisites) from those appointed as staff. It was not a separation between the spiritual and the structural, but rather laid out the more precise nature of the expectations placed on our staff. Given that our practice was “to grow our own,” this was vital.

The finance policies of October 1974 (Bridges) were fifty-six in number. The longest section dealt with financing national ministries.

The sentiment grew that our policies were too detailed and (naturally) too rooted in our American experience. What else could they be, given that Americans still accounted for 72 percent of our 1,164 staff in 1975?

In 1976, McGilchrist accelerated the process, at Sanny’s request, of simplifying and unencumbering what he then called our “global policies.”20

These were 47 percent shorter than the 1974 policies that they replaced, in “recognizing that the matters upon which we require global uniformity are rather limited.”21

One danger was that to eliminate a global requirement might eventually lead to a profusion of national or local policies. This would hardly “ease the burden upon our staff.”

This December 1976 text did not repeat the philosophical underpinnings of the Henrichsen approach. Instead, the policies were intended “to simplify decision making and to protect individual staff and our organization from subjective or haphazard decisions. They will provide a framework of collective security, promoting unity and opposing bias.”

Revised editions of our global policies were published almost annually into the early 1980s. The overall length was held almost constant. However, it must be admitted that most of our principal countries expanded their own local policies, often helpfully interweaving them with the connected sections of our global policies.

What was the atmosphere? In general, as our experience in working together grew and the mutual trust of our international leaders strengthened, we resorted more to negotiation and less to the quoting of policies.

Another important factor was the emergence, alongside our policies, of a system for allocations to rationalize our priorities in sending new missionaries.

See also articles on:
Global Planning: 1966 – 1975
Global Planning: 1976 –
Management by Objectives: 1968 – 1974
Evaluation in the 1970s
Surge and Stress: Missions in the 1970s
IHQ-USHQ Relationships
Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry
Policies and Procedures
Allocation of Cross-Cultural Missionaries
Structure in the Early 1980s

By Donald McGilchrist
3683 words


  1. This was clear and effective, though it may have left an impression with some that “international” HQ was concerned only with our progress outside the US. However, the word international was being used in the sense of worldwide.
  2. Eventually, in the early 1980s, the proximity of IHQ and USHQ would cause some tensions.
  3. Pacific Areas Director Joe Simmons was a New Zealander, originally from the UK.
  4. Discussion paper on “The Role of International Headquarters,” April 2, 1975.
  5. Developing for Doug a precise chart of what eighty regional directors in ten divisions would look like was my first contribution to the worldwide Navigators!
  6. December 1976 ILT minutes, section 2 on the global team.
  7. One is perhaps reminded of Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans leading the defeat of the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.! More directly, one recalls how the Lord separated three hundred men to accompany Gideon in defeating the Midianites (Judges 7).
  8. We did indeed lose more of our representatives than anticipated during the late 1970s. In part, this was prompted by the disciplined focus laid out in the Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry in 1978. See article on “Surge and Stress: Missions in the 1970s.”
  9. The April 1975 divisional directors’ conference was held near London, symbolically outside the USA. By the end of the conference, those present were referring to themselves as the International Leadership Team. As Mayhall recalled a decade later, “Each of us committed himself to try to think of the global good of The Navigators. It wasn’t always easy. However, that leadership team lasted through the rest of the 1970s, superbly led by Lorne.” Source: Remarks at the June 1986 installation of Jerry White.
  10. See December 1976 ILT, section 2, purpose, with the stated emphases of harmony, evaluation, planning.
  11. April 1976 ILT minute 14.1. Thus, for example, we find that the ILT in December 1975 drew from Galatians 6 the need to carry one another’s burdens. They had to function as an “accountability group.” See December 1975 minute 1.4.
  12. This simple June 1970 statement highlighted the need for what became our “Strategy for the 70s.”
  13. Source: April 1975 DDC, planning.
  14. Looking back, in later years, Sanny admitted that he had never enjoyed the support of a united and collaborative team. The leaders around him had tended to relate to him one at a time, often seeking his support for their agendas.
  15. ILT minutes, December 1976.
  16. ILT minutes, December 1976.
  17. November 1968 “Finance Policies, Procedures and Philosophy,” included in the agenda for our world regional directors’ conference.
  18. The PAN division had developed separate policies in December 1970, and the second draft (September 1974) of the international personnel policies incorporated these as appropriate.
  19. Policy 3.01.1(b): Wives of staff will be included in the designation of “staff.”  Other basic policies that lasted and shaped our approach include: 3.01.1(b), 3.02.2(b), 3.03.4(a).
  20. December 1976. “International” was avoided, as having several different meanings, such as “crossing borders” or “worldwide” or “outside my country.”
  21. November 1974 policies, 490 lines; December 1976, 264 lines.


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