You’ve come a long way baby!
Two years ago we began the process of envisioning what the future of our church will look like. If you remember we developed the vision map with the purpose of trying to determine God’s preferred future for us. In time the vision map morphed into a more simplified version we called the vision lens. There is nothing
magical about the vision lens. It is only meant to help us more clearly understand God’s purpose for our church family. It answers the questions:
- Why do we live? (We live for God’s glory)
- What do we live for? (We connect people to Jesus…)
- How do we live? (We become more like Jesus…)
As a result of this visioning process, last year we implemented a pilot program to make changes to how the church was organized. Most of that work is not very exciting, but it is very important. It’s kind of like the foundation of a house. You don’t think about it unless the foundation starts to crack. At that point you have to do something or else the house could fall down on top of you. The changes that we have made in the church organization were designed to help us better follow and fulfill God’s future in our church.
As a part of the pilot program, we as a church affirmed a very ambitious set of strategic goals. At the beginning we talked about these goals taking about five years to complete. HOWEVER, as you will see from the incredible list of accomplishments from this past year, our ministries have GREATLY exceeded expectations. I know the list is long, but please take the time to read through all of it. You will see that the Lord is doing a great work in and through our people!
We implemented a cohort model of leadership training beginning with the StrengthsFinder module which highlights the five top strengths of an individual and determines where they will operate most successfully.
We have taken two cohorts through StrengthsFinder.
We have a plan to use both the cohort model and a classroom model in addition to taking advantage of external leadership training conferences. An ad-hoc committee has been appointed and will develop the Leadership Institute curriculum in 2018.
Pastor Nate participated in the “DWELL” program initiated by John Pethtel, SDB Director of Pastoral Services, which focused on leadership issues on a monthly basis throughout 2017.
The leadership mentorship program is currently in the idea stage.
During the singing portion of youth group each week this fall, Neil Lubke is doing a great job providing a teaching emphasis on worship.
Each month we are providing opportunities for students to serve. (e.g. GIFTS Men’s Shelter, Turkey Supper, Food Pantry, Operation Christmas Child, etc.)
Planning for an outreach event to share the gospel with the unchurched is in the beginning stages.
A youth leader training opportunity is being planned for early 2018.
A student leaders program is currently in the idea and development stage.
The Collision website is up and running and is a great communication tool. Our social media presence has blown up with Shelly Perry now in charge. She is doing a fabulous job!
Weekly communication with parents of students throughout email blast now provides information on Wednesday night activities, teaching and on upcoming youth events.
Answers to prayer are regularly shared on the prayer points in the bulletin, and periodically an email goes out to the prayer network of an answer to prayer.
Meeting with ministry leaders to discuss prayer support is ongoing. The weekly prayer for Awana and Collision is an outflow of this initiative. Individuals are being mentored in prayer, and others have been identified for mentoring.
A more balanced approach to prayer has been successful in our weekly prayer points. Our emphasis on prayer for unreached peoples has been very powerful and has been tweaked to reflect an overall church prayer emphasis.
Corporate prayer times and prayer initiatives have continued this year. Plans have been made for once a month corporate prayer starting in 2018.
Plans for recruiting musicians and SaLT team members have been made and revised and will be implemented this coming year.
We went from two services to one in July based on the desire to reconnect our members during worship and to facilitate growing our relationships.
We have hired Rachel Armstrong to play piano during two services a month.
We convened a Families in Crisis Steering Committee from March 9 – April 20, held 3 meetings to identify needs and action steps were developed. We have determined that FIC will come under our Caring Ministries in the future.
We have seen a need for both internally and externally focused Bible studies. Internal studies (attended generally by church members) will be overseen by our Education ministry whereas external Bible studies will be focused on evangelism and new church development, and will come under the Outreach ministry.
Potential new leaders are in the process of being identified.
Out of the “Q Place” ministry, a Bible study on Mark was begun led by Linda Lyke, and plans have been made for an inductive study to start at the home of Perla Call led by Doneta Osborn.
We celebrated the inaugural and tremendously successful Day for Refugees on June 24th. We provided educational service and displays and raised $3,343 for World Vision’s program to work through local churches in the Middle East to help refugees (goal of $2,000 surpassed).
We took a team to East St. Louis on July 21-22 and partnered with Convoy of Hope in their community event. Over 2,000 guests were provided free of charge haircuts, shoes, job counseling, food, groceries, fun games, services and resources and best of all prayer, the Bible and the gospel.
We had three (Linda Lyke, Melissa Lade and Shanny Snyder) go through a seven week training and then facilitated the first Q Place group from June 27 – August 15. Q Place is a non-judgmental, safe place for people who believe differently to wrestle with their questions about life, God and the Bible. The summer Q Place morphed into a Mark Bible Study, meeting 2 Mondays per month.
Building our Church Family
We have a preliminary plan drafted for welcome and inclusion of new people into our church family. Ryan Holbrook is taking the lead on Ushers and development of an Active Shooter Safety Plan. We will also be working in 2018 on an overall safety plan that includes fire and natural disaster plans and coordinates with the 4K class.
We see various areas where mentorships would be beneficial, but these plans may not begin until 2018 under a “Next Steps” umbrella.
We have encouraged other small group activities as interest arises.
New area assigned to Church Family: Funeral Lunches.
In progressing toward our big goal of designing a comprehensive education plan we have:
Prepared a written inventory of Grow Groups for the last 4-5 years.
Reviewed curricula from the Gospel Project for all age groups and began using it on a pilot basis with the primary grades in Spring 2017. We also combined age groups at the primary levels to reflect changing attendance patterns.
We have met with Rev. Nick Kersten to discuss availability of denominational materials for our education programs as well as our Leadership Institute.
New areas assigned to Education: Busy Bags, Nursery.
We have completed another successful year of Awana. Awana has had two leadership training events for leaders locally, as well as participating in regional leadership training.
The Deacons have continued to solidify their new structure which seems to be operating very well, especially in the areas of transportation, and providing meals.
Barb Green continues with regular visits to the elderly and ill. The Pastors plan to visit with widows and widowers on a more regular basis in 2018.
Caring Ministries participated in and have taken on the goals from the Families in Crisis meetings, because these goals fit best with the deacon area of responsibility. Pastor Liz and Jon Cruzan participated in a Community Non-Profit forum which provided useful information about local resources.
Barb Green and Sue Cruzan lead a Grow Group on the Church and Mental Health Issues to help our congregation to minister effectively in these situations. This may become an ongoing support group in 2018.
We have begun to expand the vision and training for Camp to be more visionary. The most recent training included not only the usual nuts and bolts, but also Biblical meditation about our Biblical goals in the camping program, teamwork, and evangelism.
Safety In Ministry
Materials were revised for the year and training formatted differently for new youth staff to be more appropriate for this age group.
Praise the Lord for His leading in 2017!