Where We’re Going
On Wednesday, April 29, I shared the first report of the church Strategic Planning Committee (SPC). Since November, we have been engaged in a process of discerning God’s vision for our church for the next 3-5 years. We are a vibrant, active downtown church with well over 200 ministries, groups, programs, and committees. We certainly don’t need to add yet another thing to our plate for the sake of doing something for Jesus. We do, however, recognize how much our world has changed in just the last few years. In the midst of a shifting society, the church still represents the only eternal alternative to death: everlasting life with Jesus.
Imagine for a moment that you were sent as a missionary from Spain to Tallahassee and you were given 3-5 years to fulfill God’s call here in our city. What would you do, where would you start, and what programs and ministries would you begin? Knowing that none of us are church planters, and all of us have the luxury of 165 years of established ministry, facilities, and friendships from which to begin, you would still recognize that (1) we can’t do everything but (2) we can do something. But if you wanted to discern God’s call, you would need a vision and a plan from which to begin. That’s the kind of process we are undergoing.
First Baptist is a flagship church representing God’s presence to our city. Based on Jesus’s authority from Matthew 16, the church bears witness to Him whether on the block at 108 West College or throughout our community. By working together on a vision, we are able to be the church. We can clarify our direction, set aside individual projects, invite new people to discover their gifts and calling, coordinate efforts across the ministries of our church, and integrate our personal walk with Christ into our corporate programs and ministries.
After listening to our congregation’s feedback, we decided not to go in 200 different directions simultaneously, add a few new programs, or prioritize every suggestion we’ve received. We would likely spend the next 20 years trying to complete that checklist. Instead we took a short term approach. We assessed the current reality of our church and world and are proposing a way that would capture the hearts and hands of all of us. We gathered information thus far from over 250 church attenders, 40 deacons, 9 Pastoral Staff, 9 community and denominational organizations, and have studied statistics and trends on our church and community. Based on this information, prayer, and discernment, we are inviting our church to focus on five outcomes. In our mission and ministry, we want to fulfill God’s call by 2020 as faithful disciples, in strong homes, through a transformed city, among a connected church, and with servant leaders.
Each one will be measurable and discernible. Each year we’ll take a look and assess the progress we’ve made and make adjustments to our programs and strategies based on these five outcomes. Like the farmer sowing seed, we want to focus on the areas where the soil is fertile and the harvest is plentiful. In order to do that, we need your help and want to hear even more from you again. Over the next few weeks, the SPC will be meeting with committees, ministry groups, deacons, staff, trustees, and ministries of our church to discern the strategies, programs, and ministries that we need to accomplish these outcomes. We would like to know what programs currently helps us in these five ways and what new ministries, volunteers, staff, and resources would be needed to fulfill this vision. We will gather information and use it to help us discern strategies at our next planning retreat.
Our website has the information we’ve shared thus far, including a presentation from April 29. Please check this out, and send your feedback to Amy Parks by June 1. If you can’t download it from our website, drop by the front desk; and our staff will be glad to share a copy with you. Together, we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide our next steps as we fulfill this vision to the glory of God.