Strategic Plan 2018-2023
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In all that we do, our hope is in Jesus Christ. The gospel assures us that he is our light (John 8:12) and our life (John 11:25). He is the bread that sustains (John 6:35) us and the living water that nourishes us (John 4:13-14). He creates the path that guides us (John 14:6) and is the gate opened to us (John 10:7). He is the good shepherd who always hears us and lays his life down for us (John 10:11). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of us (Revelation 21:6). Therefore, as Presbyterians, when we affirm “with the earliest Christians that Jesus is Lord, the Church confesses that he is its hope” (Book of Order, F-1.0204).
Because our hope rests so clearly in Christ, we share in the transformative hope that Christ offers to the world. Writing to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul expressed this hope in words that continue to call and challenge the church in every time and place: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2). Our hope is that we, as the church of Jesus Christ, will be transformed by the good, acceptable, and perfect vision of Christ in our midst.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
As members of the First Presbyterian Church of Concord, North Carolina, our mission is to sustain and actively participate in a vibrant community of faith based on Christian fellowship, service and love.
• We worship God through prayer, proclamation, music and scripture with depth, sincerity and awe;
• We teach children, youth and adults, through education and example, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed;
• We share the goodness and love of God through our gifts, talents and service in the world with glad and generous hearts.
As an established, traditional church in an established, traditional town, First Presbyterian has been and remains an influential voice in our community. While we continue to be grateful for our very rich history, we sense that the rapid growth of Cabarrus County in recent years is changing the established, traditional patterns of our city. The new residents driving the population growth in the southern and western portions of the county seem more connected to Charlotte than to downtown Concord, and we are wondering how we might broaden our base to embrace these new people. At the same time, we are noticing new, urgent social needs in our own neighborhood on and around Union Street. As families continue to be stretched thin by busy schedules and the challenge of juggling more choices and options than we have ever had before, we perceive a need to bring the good news to them with creativity and relevance, trying our best to “meet people where they are.” In this context of rapid, radical change, we as a church community seem ready to engage our faith and our community in new and more active ways.
As we walk the path of faith through this changing societal landscape, several key theological ideas from the Protestant Reformation continue to shape us:
(1) As Presbyterians, we continue to believe that our communal life is grounded in the living Word of God (Book of Order, F-1.0401) and that “the reading, hearing, preaching, and confessing of the Word are central to Christian worship” (Book of Order, W-2.2001). Because the witness of scripture remains the highest and best guide for our discernment of Christ’s will for the church (Book of Order, F-1.0203), every nuance of this strategic plan assumes and depends upon honest, consistent, and intentional engagement with the Bible.
(2) This strategic plan is also guided by our conviction that our goals, purposes, and “great ends” of our participation in Christ’s church are: “the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world” (Book of Order, F-1.0304). Our aim as the body of Christ should always be pointed in these directions.
(3) Last, but certainly not least, is our certainty that Christ is not done with us yet. As Presbyterians, we believe that the hands of the divine potter of Jeremiah 18 are still upon us and still shaping us. Accordingly, we still wholeheartedly affirm the motto of our ancestors in the faith, “Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei, that is, ‘The church reformed, always to be reformed according to the Word of God’ in the power of the Spirit” (Book of Order, F-2.02). In the hopes and words of this plan, we humbly pray that, whatever steps we may take as the church, God will continue to reform us and conform us into something that draws ever nearer to the image of Christ.
On August 9, 2016, the Administration and Personnel Committee proposed to the full session a slate of seven members to comprise a Strategic Plan Vision Team for our congregation. In the composition of this Vision Team, the committee sought to include a diverse spectrum of members who are invested in the church, valued and respected by the congregation, and dedicated to both our past and our future. This Vision Team proposed by the committee, which was unanimously and enthusiastically elected by the session, included Kevin Garrison, Carrie Myers, Harris Morrison, Holly Cagle, Britt Leatherman, Todd Phillips, and Pat Chaffin. Senior Minister Peter Bynum, Treasurer Toby Prewitt, and the immediate past moderator of the Administration Personnel Committee Susan Schneider were also designated to assist and support the team in its work in ex officio capacities. As a whole, this team was commissioned to envision, compose, and share a five-to-seven-year strategic plan for all aspects of our church life, including measureable goals for success.
As the Vision Team began its work, it decided early that it could not hope for transformation of the congregation without hoping for transformation of their own hearts and spirits. The group therefore began with a shared study of a current study of the church by Diana Butler Bass called Grounded. Reading and sharing together, the Vision Team discussed the changing landscape of faith in today’s world. Team members also became convicted that the place and calling of the church in the world is now in a moment of transition — that God is even now causing a “new thing” to spring forth in and around us (Isaiah 43:19).
In order to explore this awareness in a deeper way, the Vision Team arranged and scheduled two theological reflection sessions to be facilitated by In Christ Supporting Ministries (“ICSM”), a Charlotte-based organization of Reformed Christians who specialize in theological and spiritual education and seek to assist individuals and churches through transformational experiences. Wishing to share their enthusiasm and bring others into the conversation, the Vision Team invited all current elders and deacons of the church to take the training with them. On February 24, 2017, and February 28, 2017, ICSM led two vibrant and illuminating sessions with our church leadership. Conversation at these sessions was both honest and hopeful, and a solid foundation for the Vision Team’s work was laid. We left with the message that Christ, who is “in the room” with us, lightens our yoke and brings joy to our hearts as we go about His work through the church.
The team then turned to a period of listening. Their hope was to glean as much information from the congregation as they could in the conviction that the guidance the Holy Spirit was giving to individual consciences would be an excellent indicator of the guidance the Holy Spirit was giving to the church as a whole. From conversations at the 2017 church retreat in Kanuga, to a town hall meeting at a Wednesday night fellowship dinner, to the comprehensive congregational survey distributed to the entire congregation, and through many individual conversations over the past year, the Vision Team began to formulate both an accurate picture of the current state of our ministries and some very hopeful ideas of where God may be leading us in the future.
From the very beginning, the Vision Team has followed an organizational principle that divided our shared mission and ministry into five focus areas or “buckets”: Worship & Music; Mission and Outreach; Christian Formation; Building & Grounds; and Congregational Care. Early on, each team member was assigned to a particular bucket and charged with building a larger “bucket team” comprised of interested officers, staff members, and other stakeholders. These larger teams would then help the Vision Team study and dream about what God has in store for us in that particular aspect of our church ministry.
After several months of conversation with the session regarding current states, target states, and specific action items for each bucket, the elders of First Presbyterian Church approved this Strategic Plan on February 14, 2018.
KEY THEMES FOR OUR CHURCH CONTEXT
In its work, the Vision Team noticed several overarching themes that apply to each of the five “buckets” of our church ministry. The committee shares these themes in the hope that they will serve as lenses through which the current states, target states, and proposed action steps will be viewed by the session and the congregation as the transformative power of Christ continues to work in and through us:
(1) Engagement — It is our prayer that the members of our congregation will engage more deeply and regularly in the mission and ministries of the church. As the church meets people where they are, we can both (a) invite disciples into existing opportunities for devotion and service and (b) empower them to be self-starters in the development of new missions and ministries.
(2) Stewardship — Although faithful stewardship of our time, talent, and treasure is certainly a part of our calling to engage fully in the life of the church, the Vision Team believes that this aspect of commitment is important enough to highlight on its own. As this plan is implemented, we hope that members will be both invited and empowered to support the congregation’s ministries with consistency and generosity.
(3) Communication — As you will see, many of the action steps identified in this Strategic Plan seek to increase the effectiveness of our communications about all that is happening in our congregation. Our hope is that greater transparency will allow the inspirational and transformational work of Christ in this place to shine more brightly for our members, our ministry partners, and our neighbors.
(4) Technology — At almost every turn, the Vision Team saw ways that new technologies might improve the work we are doing in Christ’s name. It is our hope that congregational leaders, as they implement this plan, will be vigilant in identifying modern tools and approaches, explore ways to increase the effectiveness of our communications through technology, and be bold in the investments we make in new technological strategies.
KEY AREAS FOR OUR TRANSFORMATION
Attached here are reports from each of the five “bucket” areas identified in our planning process. This documentation describes “Current States” (the status of our ministries today), “Target States” (the places we believe Christ is calling us to go), and “Action Steps” (a partial list — which is only a beginning — of things we may decide to do to begin the journey toward our identified Target States).