In December, we had our three day weekend with Ministry Architects, the “main event” of the parish-wide Vision Journey that started when I returned from my 2017 sabbatical. Two cool consultants, Leslie and Debbie, were on site and facilitated a number of listening groups for vestry, staff, lay leaders, school families, school staff, and then several come-all sessions to which all members and attenders were invited.
The objective of Ministry Architect’s visit was to get a 360° snapshot of our parish. As we seek to grow and be the best church we can be, the vestry and I desired an objective look at our strengths, challenges, and to receive some recommendations about what needs our time and attention going forward. The 24-page report we received from Ministry Architects at the end of the weekend contained all of that, and it is available at the parish office for anyone who wants a copy. Here, by way of reminder, are the main take-aways from the weekend:
St. John’s Strengths
- Highly-committed, supportive parishioners. (From MA’s perspective, we had an extraordinarily high percentage of members who participated in discussions—119 people in all.)
- Well done worship, music, and preaching—highly valued by the parish.
- A congregation that desires to grow and reach out.
- Many new, highly enthusiastic members coming aboard in 2017.
- New ministries that have started in 2017 and are drawing people to the church.
- A strong clergy and lay staff, especially with the new hires of Benjamin Kolodziej as organist-choirmaster and Jeneé Echard as CFM director—these additions have energized the parish.
- Success with the REFLECT capital campaign topping $1 million and running ahead of schedule.
St. John’s Challenges
- We are hit or miss with newcomers. We need to improve our system for welcoming, incorporating, and engaging the new people we see literally every week, getting more to “stick.”
- An invisible volunteer onramp. It seems that many folks don’t know the opportunities or the pathways toward deeper involvement and finding a place in ministry.
- Children’s ministry. Yes, there are good things are afoot not that we have Jeneé at the helm, but there is more to be done in strengthening and promoting the program, and Jeneé needs a team of committed volunteers to further this work
- Church visibility. No one knows where our church is!
- MA’s report called on us to improve our nursery care and to offer nursery for all major parish events.
- Sustainable youth ministry. Again, Fr. Johnson has reinvigorated the Youth Group since his arrival at St. John’s, but he needs to build a team in order to take it to the next level.
MA’s report also contained a lot of metrical data about church attendance, demographics, best practices for the ratio of staff to constituents, budgetary norms for church programs, worship patterns and priorities of millennials, and successful strategies for building a sustainable teams of staff and volunteers. And then, the report concluded with some concrete recommendations to address our challenges, shore up our foundation, and then build for the future.
So, what’s next?
The big news is that in January, the Vestry engaged Ministry Architects to coach and lead us through the next year and a half of implementing our consultant’s recommendations. In the months ahead, you will see an emphasis on recruiting parishioners into ministries, establishing parish-wide guidelines and job descriptions for ministry heads and team members, improving our systems and structures, expanding our children and youth programs, and then yes, more visioning.
Let me know if you’re interesting in lending a hand with any of the above. And then look forward to hearing more information about the Visioning Summit we are planning for June, a come-all event in which we will look at our mission statement, core values, and set strategic goals for 3 years out.
Glad to be on the journey with you,