We had a recent reunion for those 150 of us who were at the school of congregational development from the California-Pacific Annual Conference.
These are my notes as taken during the session.
School of Congregational Development Reunion
Began with music
Jonathan Lee gave a video presentation welcome, as he is in Chicago for the Willow Creek school.
Craig Brown brought greetings from the Bishop; we had a conference delegation of about 150 people at the SCD; our agenda today will include dialogue and conversation groups with particular persons in their areas of expertise.
Brian Parcel gave us the academy dates for 2007
-March 16, 17 Richard Southern and Robert Norton: Cracking Your Congregation’s Code; discovering and developing your congregation’s DNA. To Be held in the Ontario area.
-October 12, 13 Brian McLaren; Emergent Church; in the Burbank area.
-Scholarships are available for churches who are on equitable comp and those with attendance under 50.
-For more information www.cal-pac-growth.org
Adjourn to 90 minute learning groups with ongoing Google groups.
-Congregational Visions and Mission
-Understanding the Mission Field
-Engaging in Mission
Please take with you to these groups one question in mind: What is the one question you need answered for your setting?
Vision and Mission Group with Jim Powell
-Story of the school at Mt. Pisgah UMC in GA. The school board of powerful people and the 1000 students. The Jr High youth went on a retreat from the school over the summer. During the retreat the youth pastor went to the retreat and during his sharing time offered an altar call, while the principal/superintendent of the school was telling the youth that they could not go, and telling the youth pastor that this was inappropriate for the setting. It all hit the fan when they returned home. The school board sided with the principal/superintendent and the church council sided with the youth pastor. The school was a part of the church, not an adjunct mission of the church. During the fight that ensued the question became about what the vision and mission of the church was. As such the lawyers went to court and the end result was the school board, consisting of such power players as Jeff Foxworthy, John Smoltz, the VP of Cocacola, and others were all summarily fired. The church lost over 150 families and 3000 members in the fallout, but recommitted itself to the mission of the church to proclaim Jesus Christ, and has since recovered all those lost families and members in their numbers with a very successful school.
The question for us becomes one of the same: What will we live or die for as a church?
Is the vision cast by God in your congregation, or by an individual with an agenda?
The unspoken vision versus the vision made during a “Saturday Morning Retreat” versus the one God has laid out.
Eg. Del Rosa’s unspoken vision is “We are family”
The vision created during a retreat is:
“The Del Rosa United Methodist Church is a living, growing community of faithful members of the body of Christ. We are a fellowship of active and supportive persons who minister to one another, our community, and our world. We are an inter-active, dynamic and Christ-centered congregation who are dedicated to nurturing, educating, and caring for others in Christian love and faith.”
If one does decide to do a “Visioning Retreat” it is helpful to do two things:
1) bring in the outside consultant for the event
2) go in with no prescribed outcomes
My questions of self for such a time of visioning are:
1) How do I get out of the way of the process?
2) Where do I need to step into the process?
3) Is it time to recast the vision for Del Rosa?
Once you have a vision in place reflect everything the church does back to the vision, and the mission. Either it will hold together or it will dissemble. The challenge comes when the program does not reflect the mission. There are two alternatives then, that the program needs to fall away, or the vision needs to be recast.
VISION – The Prophecy that tells where we are going
MISSION – How we get to the prophetic vision
(Some have noted that varieties of authors sometimes interchange the two. The reality is that you must have the where and the how.)
Each church can and should be different in how gifts of the Spirit are manifest.
How often should we reflect on the vision?
-one church does this every ad council meeting at the end.
-another church does it every other ad council meeting, and focuses on a particular area of the church
If someone has an idea for the program of the church it might be helpful to do two things:
1) reflect it back to the mission and vision of the church
2) ensure they have a prayer/partner/passion for the program
Be wary of using models for mission and vision from outside the church. Ensure the model is a biblical model. Additionally, if self-perpetuation is the goal of the vision, then the vision is flawed.
How have you done visioning?
-Del Rosa UMC has used this process:
1) We did five nights of visioning questions and roundtable discussions over three months at the beginning of the new pastorate
2) We gathered the old vision from the archives, and ultimately re-used it
3) We spent time looking at demographics from the area (Percept Study was helpful for this purpose)
4) We tried some things to address the stated needs of the congregation, and met with resistance, helping us to identify that the mission and vision of the church was not current or practical for our purposes
5) We began a series of questions to determine vital interests, and areas of compassion (Similar to tools presented in the Southern and Norton book, Cracking your Congregation’s Code.
6) We began the Covenant for Vital Ministry Congregational Assessment
7) We intend to take all of this information we have gathered back to the church body, after narrowing the purposes with the “Visioning Our Future Team”.
8) We will then need to reflect all of our programs and ideas for programs back to the mission and vision of the church.
With the understanding that only a Biblical Vision can work for the church to be faithful, then it might be helpful to discover some of the Biblical Visions for the church.
-One shared is the Acts 2 church.
-question for the group: Is this the only vision for the church that is biblical? What others might be available?
Suggested that not everyone who enters our church doors may find our church suitable for them. In that regard you may find it helpful to do some follow-up.
-The group has requested Brian Parcel share with us his response card that he sends out three to four months after someone has not come back to the church.
-Develop a catalog of other churches in your area with their strengths. One way to accumulate that information is with the help of calls and letters to the other churches, saying ‘We’d like to advertise your church in our congregation.” Once getting through the skepticism, by means of ensuring the purpose of the questions as one to get every person interested in a church home to a church home, it may begin to take shape.
Also for the edification of all:
-How often do you preach on the mission and vision of the church?
Recognize that those who enter the church are asking one question:
-Is my life going to change because I am a part of this congregation?
LUNCH WAS SERVED
Craig Kennet Miller came forward and shared with us from a powerpoint presentation on the L3 Leadership Incubator and the Church Vitality Indicator
He suggested that we shape ministry as though the congregation is a set of college students, rotating every so often in and out of the setting you provide.
Showed a video of “The Church and the Grocery Store” (Available with the L3 materials as a DVD)
This video depicted a grocery store as it changed with the times and the people of the neighborhoods, while the church remained steadfast in what it looked like, did and presented to the community, with some significant disdain for the church on behalf of the narrator.
Some discussion and powerpoint followed, with those powerpoint slides handed out at the reunion. Some copies are available, and I can send them to you if you need them.
The final point of the session from Craig was that if your church is successful and the three or four other churches around you are not (Methodist, denominational or other) then you are still failing.
Reunion concluded with some announcements by Cedrick Bridgeforth and a blessing.