Focus First Steering Committee Member Robert Holman shares his thoughts and reflections on being part of the Focus First planning process.
What excites you most about the Focus First planning process?
I know where I think I want the church to go, but it’s exciting to see where the congregation wants the church to go. Everyone likes to be asked his or her opinion. This is a medium for them to express those opinions freely and hear the ideas of others.
What do you think is different about Focus First from planning processes we’ve used in the past?
We’ve been part of this church for a little over 12 years, and we’ve been through this only once that I can remember. I think the difference this time is that there is an increased level of awareness about the process. We also have the addition of a nationally recognized consultant for this planning. Having a professional to help guide us is valuable and adds efficiency. The Focus Groups offer everyone an opportunity to say more than they can express when just answering a survey. These groups also offer another opportunity for people to speak up — and to visit together about what the church is and where it’s going. It’s also exciting to have Lance’s enthusiasm bringing such energy to the project.
What do you see as the challenges to this Focus First process?
I think the biggest challenge is always getting people to participate and to realize that this is their chance to take ownership of the decisions being made. I would hope it’s important to them and that they would jump at the chance. I would hope that everyone will want to be part of this and to help guide this process — and that we are giving them an easier and more comfortable way to express their opinions.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities offered to us by the Focus First process?
I think the opportunity for each congregational member to have their voice heard is the most valuable part of the Focus First process.
What do you most want people to know about the Focus First process?
I want people to know that this decision-making process is not based on the ideas of five or six people. This is the church’s decision. Our job as the steering committee isn’t really to steer anything at all — our job is to gather, manage, and organize the data. It’s fun to see and hear ideas as they come in, but there’s no agenda or shaping going on except to organize it in a way the leadership summit can access and analyze it easily in a relatively short period of time. I grew up Methodist and want everyone to know how much I love this church — and how much I want to share this church with others as the city grows.
What professional or personal attributes do you think led to your being selected for this committee?
Professionally I’m a financial planner. So day-in and day-out I help people determine what their goals are and then help them organize and plan in order to reach them over the long term. Personally, my wife and I have three young children, so we have the young family perspective as well. Both of these experiences offer different vantage points to a variety of issues facing this planning committee.
How long have you been involved with First Church — and in what ways?
We moved to Fort Worth in the fall of 2004 and joined in the spring of 2005. My wife, Jenny, and I are part of the Genesis Sunday School class and that is probably the biggest part of our involvement. I currently serve on the Board of Trustees, and I have served several times in the past on the Finance Committee. I just completed my term as Genesis Class President this past year, and Jenny is just winding up her term as chair of the UMW Elizabeth Circle. We also have three boys, ages eight, five, and four, so we’ve been really involved in our Children’s Ministries for the past three years.
What is it about our church you are most proud of?
I try to get better and to be a better Christian every day, so for this church to help lead that spiritual growth is something I’m really proud of. I’m also proud of the relationships we have here that we otherwise wouldn’t have. Our best friends are people we’ve met in the church — in our Sunday School class. I also like that we’re a downtown church in a fast-growing city that still feels like a small town. To be thriving as we are in this downtown geographic area is wonderful. The children’s program is also very exciting. Because of this church we — and our children — have friends from all over Fort Worth. The church is centrally located for all of us, and because of that there are so many people we never would have met if not for the church.
What is your highest hope for the Focus First planning process?
My highest hope for this process is that we seize this moment in history and take hold of this opportunity. This church broke ground in a very challenging time — the day before the stock market crashed in 1929 — but their faith and foresight is why I sit here almost 90 years later, enjoying what they had the courage to build anyway. Because they had that sense of urgency, they were able to lead this church into a new era. Now it’s our turn to have the faith and foresight to move this church into a new era. So now we have to have the courage to take advantage of our opportunity to plan for future generations as we have benefitted from those great decisions of the past.
My highest hope for our generation is that we can create an environment where people want to be — to come here and learn about God’s love, how important Jesus is, and that God’s love is for them. I want my children to learn all that now — and then in thriving youth programs — so that later on they will want to come back to where they grew up to raise their own families here.