We talked at our annual congregational meeting about what is next for our church. In the past three years, we have had significant growth in worship attendance, membership, activities, giving, and mission. Many organizations plateau after new leadership has been in place for a few years. Sure, a new president, CEO or pastor, can energize people, but only for a few years. They get used to the new leader and stop improving after a period of development. They become stagnant. We want to maintain our vitality.
Successful organizations understand these trends of leadership. They work as a team to plan for the next life cycle. They move from being leadership driven to having a vision. True motivation comes from knowing your purpose. Organizations like churches, businesses, and schools, who remain vibrant year after year know one thing that shapes everything they do. They know why they exist. Purpose shapes who we become, what we do, and how we do it.
Ask 20 members “Why do we as a church exist in this place, in this day, and time?” You will get two things, 1) a blank stare for a good minute and 2) A lot of different answers about God, Jesus, worship, and serving others. Why is that? Well, it’s because this is a complex, emotional and multi-faceted question for each and every individual who walks through the doors of any sanctuary. It is also one we don’t think of very often when it comes to loving our church. We are glad it’s here. We want others to share in whatever it is that calls us back week after week, but we can’t name it. However, it is good to name things we love.
Over the course of several months to a year, your leaders have nominated a group of “conversation starters.” They will help guide us to articulate a clear and concise vision of who we are. Their job will be simple: listen. Through listening sessions in church, sometimes around tables in worship in the fellowship hall and other times with small groups in homes, restaurants or the church, they will ask for stories and memories. They will ask about your core beliefs, convictions and values. We will do this with scriptures, prayers, songs, and stories.
This practice will do two things. First, it will nurture our roots. We will know more about each other on a deeper level, as we share our hopes and beliefs about God, Christ, Church, Culture, and Family. We will build relationships! Second, as our roots are watered we will be able to name for ourselves the new fruit we want to bear through the Holy Spirit. We will be able to name our purpose as a collective body, as one tree with many branches. This will enable us to talk about how to keep growing and serving with energy and joy.
Going to the next level means asking do our beliefs match our practices? Are we providing education, if we say we care about education? Are we welcoming diversity, if we say we value and honor differences? How are we implementing the values that flow from our purpose? How can we do what works even better? This will take us to the next level of living out our lives together. From this place, we will do robust ministry from a shared vision and purpose in following Christ, rather than relying simply on organizational leadership.
I pray you will be open to this process. I believe the vision will help us Share God’s Love, Shine God’s Light, and Shape God’s People in exciting ways that are true to who God is calling us to be. Rev. Trey Hegar
The Mission of the First Presbyterian Church, Mt. Pleasant is to encourage and nurture diverse expressions of the love of Christ in our congregation and community, and to embrace Christ-centered ministries around the world.
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