As we move forward into 2012, I believe that a few years down the road, our congregation will be able to look back with amazement and to say definitively that the years 2011-2012 were truly years of visioning and change. I personally believe that the groundwork we have done and are still in the process of doing is going to be the impetus that will lead us forward for many years and will be the platform for growth at St. John’s, both spiritually and numerically. What an exciting time this is!
We began the process in the Spring of 2010 as our Visioning Team began working with the resource, “Church Unique.” As a result, we have a new Mission Mandate (“Open Arms and Serving Hands Transforming Lives Through Christ”) and we are currently continuing our work on a graphic design to help illustrate and be a “map” to help us live out that Mandate.
In the Winter of 2010, I was offered the opportunity to work with Bill Easum’s “Next Level Coaching Network.” Initially, I did a lot of preparatory work and study, especially in the areas of evangelism, community outreach, and church growth. Following that, our church undertook a very big project called the Easum Audit which helped to identify not only our strengths and weaknesses as a congregation but also my personal strengths and weaknesses in pastoral ministry. In addition to my monthly coaching session with Easum, he has met with our leadership team, and we received a report which gave some specific recommendations for our congregation as well as my own personal mission mandate.
Between working with the Visioning Team and working with Easum, this has turned out to be a very busy but very exciting and very productive time in my ministry and in the life of St. John’s! Our brand new website is about to debut in a few short weeks. There is a brand new Worship Arts Team, and we are also looking to enhance our sanctuary with video and audio equipment. We are about to redesign our Children’s Ministry area. We’ve added a new staff member – a Director of Community Outreach. We’ve begun a new Caring Ministry Visitation team where we’ve trained shut-in and hospital visitors to assist the pastors – we are also planning a new Stephen Ministry in 2012. We are in the process of beginning a whole new sermon-based small group ministry for the purpose of fellowship, assimilation, and spiritual growth. Our staff has reconfigured some of their job descriptions and we are very busy learning to be people who identify, recruit, and mentor leaders to do ministry rather than do the ministry ourselves. We’ve begun looking at restructuring and streamlining our administrative boards and committees hoping that the end product will be that we free people up so that they can be in ministry. We are also beginning to evaluate and redefine everything we do based on our new Mission Mandate — i.e., “Does this program let the community know that we have open arms?” or “Does this program encourage and celebrate the fact that we are a community of serving hands?” or “How is this program transforming lives in our congregation and our community?”
We celebrate the fact that our average worship attendance has increased in the last 12 months from 430 to 442. This is good – but it’s not good enough. As we look at our surrounding community, we know that there are a multitude of people who are starving for everything that Christ can offer them. So we pray God’s blessing upon our church family, and we pray for the strength and passion to find new ways to open our arms and our hearts and to offer them Christ.