What excites you most about the Focus First planning process?
The opportunity we have to really be intentional about deciding our way forward. Sometimes we do things without really thinking it all the way through from all angles. To be able to sit with everyone and think and talk in depth with one another and plan together — to engage the whole church in that process — is going to give everyone a change to give feedback.
What do you think is different about Focus First from planning processes we’ve used in the past?
I’m sort of new to the church so I’m not really sure of past processes, but this is different in the particular way Susan uses to get feedback. I think it’s probably very different than the way most churches do it. To get everyone’s feedback in the Focus Groups — and the structure of the Focus Groups themselves — feels very different. For people to be able to give in-depth feedback and share their experiences is pretty unique.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to this Focus First process?
I think it’s being a large congregation and trying to get feedback from as many people as possible. You want everybody to feel like his or her voice is heard and that they have a stake in the process — and that’s hard when there are so many people. For people who have been here for a long time and may have taken surveys in the past — and maybe they didn’t see any of their feedback or suggestions incorporated — well, they may be a little skeptical. In the workplace you go through this all the time. You do all this work and then it gets put into a binder, on a shelf, and then nobody ever thinks about it again until it’s time to do it again. I think some people might have that view of the process, so the challenge is to help them see that this is different from anything we’ve ever done before.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities offered to us by the Focus First process?
One reason why I really wanted to be involved in this process in the first place and feel so strongly about it is that my husband and I chose this church because we wanted it to be our church home for a long time. I think there are a lot of others in my demographic who feel the same way. So we feel like it’s really important to have some skin in the game — to engage in the process and to put in some work to help make sure our church is the kind of place where we want our family to be for a really long time.
What do you most want people to know about the Focus First process?
The most important thing for everyone to understand is that this group is not just six or seven people sitting in the room making decisions about what the church is going to do or what the issues are that need to be fixed or improved — or what needs to be done. All we’re doing is laying the groundwork that will allow everyone’s voice to be heard and making sure that everyone has a chance to have their say. Then the church as a whole can come up with the ideas, rather than just a handful of people behind closed doors.
What professional or personal attributes do you think led to your being selected for this committee?
I’m a stay-at-home mom right now, but my whole career has been in nonprofit organizations, including Tarrant Area Food Bank, so I have a lot of experience engaging with people who are volunteers. I’m honestly not sure why they asked me — and to be sure if it were any sort of decision-making process, I would not have accepted. I would not be qualified. But for the process of gathering information, getting the word out, and encouraging people to participate — I feel like I can do that!
How long have you been involved with First Church — and in what ways?
I’ve been a church member since 2013. I’m very involved in UMW as a co-chair of Grace Circle this year, and I was on the committee last year for the UMW fundraiser. I was also a Children’s Ministries volunteer with Vacation Bible School for the past three summers. I’m a preschool parent and was on the committee for the preschool fundraiser last year. I am a part of The Gathering worship service since it started last year.
What is it about our church you are most proud of?
I think I’m most proud of the way we serve the community. This is something that was important to us when we were searching for a church. We wanted a church that doesn’t just serve its members to try to build itself up, but serves the community as well.
What is your highest hope for the Focus First planning process?
My highest hopes are that by the time we’re through the process everyone in this church feels like they had the opportunity to be heard and to engage with the process. And then, I hope that we can come out of this process with two or three things that are realistic but will have a lasting impact on the church.