This past year we engaged in a formal discernment process called Focus First in which we as a congregation addressed three fundamental questions: Who are we? Who is our neighbor? What is God calling us to do now?
Over the course of this five-month process between September and February, you expressed your thoughts and opinions in a Congregational Survey; you talked openly in a series of Focus Groups; and in February, a Leadership Summit brought approximately 150 of our church leaders together to examine all this gathered data and then discern from it our church’s collective vision for our future.
To set this vision into motion, our church leaders identified four clear areas of strategic focus:
1. Make changes to our physical facilities to create “A building that connects the church”
To facilitate opportunities for connection between our ministries, worship communities, and other groups within our congregation, we will leverage the strengths of our beautiful, historic campus while creating new opportunities for connection and growth.
2. Develop a Small Groups ministry that builds relationships in “Life-giving groups”
To create opportunities in which every member connects with a group of people who helps facilitates spiritual growth and discipleship, we will invite all new members and visitors to participate in a group that fits their needs.
3. Support and embrace Youth ministry as “Our leading edge”
To encourage the growth and work of our Youth Ministries we will find new ways to deeply commit our congregation to ministry with teenagers. As a church we will welcome, encourage, and empower teenagers in Christian community and discipleship.
4. Increase our congregational diversity to better reflect “The Kingdom of God”
To broaden our horizons, grow our circles of influence, and open ourselves to others from all walks of life in new and compelling ways, we will explore ways to refine our vision for creating an increasingly diverse faith community.
Following the Leadership Summit and approval of this thoughtful work by our Church Council, our Focus First Steering Committee created three special Innovation Teams to work alongside the Focus First Steering Committee members and church staff. Each lay-led Innovation Team is charged with further study and development of one of our four strategic initiatives. (Instead of appointing a new team for the building initiative, the Focus First Steering committee affirmed the excellent work already underway by our Building Study committee to help our church achieve the vision set out by the congregational feedback.)
These Innovation Teams are now at work developing a 3-to 5-year plan for implementing these strategic objectives. Once this work is complete, it will become part of our overall Strategic Plan to be implemented, guided, and supported by the church council during the next 3-5 years.
Click here to read the full summary report of the Focus First discernment process approved by the church council. If you have questions about the Focus First discernment process, the Leadership Summit, or the Innovation Teams please contact Rev. Lance Marshall (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 817/339-5078.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster