Questions and Answers – Part 3

Well, it is time for our next installment of questions and answers.  This week’s questions deal mainly with the vision and direction of North Star.  I hope you find the discussion thought provoking as well as informative.

What is our vision for the future? (5 of you asked)
Last fall our church board or council voted to enter into a consultation process called the Healthy Church Initiative or HCI.  This decision was not a paid staff decision; it was discussed and approved by the 10 regular members of the church who make up our council. 

An adjustment or transition that we have been going through is the movement away from a facilities driven strategic plan into a visionary ministry plan.  The dynamics that are at play cannot be quickly brushed aside.  Trust, conversation, and discernment takes time and patience.  One of the outcomes of HCI will be the formation of a vision team.  We will review our current mission statement,  our strategies, and the direction we believe God is leading.  From that we will prayerfully craft a vision and communication plan to ensure that we are all pointed in one direction – God’s direction for North Star.

What is my role in the church?  (8 of you asked)
This question deserves a two-part answer.   The first answer is this – each of us is to play a support role.  We support the “church” or one another through our presence in each others lives, our prayers for each other, our service in the name of Jesus, and our witness.  Our baptismal covenant and the vows of membership bind us together in this role.  In short, we are to be intimately connected one with each other for the purpose of worship, care, and ministry.

The other part of the answer is to utilize your spiritual gift(s) in Christ’s service.  Two promenient lists are mentioned in the Apostle Paul’s writings (Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 12:1ff).  Once you read these two lists it may not be apparent to you what your spiritual gift is; we can help.  Periodically we offer a spiritual gifts class and assessment.  For persons who have never taken a gift inventory the class is longer and for those who took it years ago, we offer a refresher.  One website that you can review is http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/ where you can download, read and take a spiritual gifts test at your own pace.  Of course it does you and your faith community no good if you do not use them.  The second part of our role is to fully use our spiritual gifts in service to God, each other and the world.  If you are curious about specific roles, please visit with Tricia DeCamp, Equipping Ministries Coordinator or email her at nsequipad@att.net.

What do we do to retain our members, draw outsiders, and sustain our missional emphasis?  (7 of you asked one or a combination of these questions)
Member retention is one of several priorities; let me share with you our process.  If  you are absent 3 Sundays in a row we mail a “We Have Missed You” card.  If you miss 4 Sundays in a row you receive a phone call.  If you miss 6 Sundays in a row you receive another follow-up phone call and again at 3 months.  If you are absent for 6 months and have not transferred your membership or asked us to take you off our rolls, then we mail an exit interview that is solely designed to garner feedback for our improvement.  The phone calls are from a combination of staff, pastors, and lay persons.  Unfortunately the demographic information notes that each church loses about 7% of their worshippers due to multiple factors.

Regarding outsiders – there are tools that we use to announce our presence in the community.  We have a new webside that is  attractive and easy to use.  We have a limited marketing budget and because of the narrow return on investment we do not advertise in the newspaper or through mass marketing.  That leaves the best kind of advertising – word of mouth.  I hear that the new movie “The Vow” is a tear-jerker from beginning to end and everyone that I know that has seen it is talking a lot about it as well as recommending it to all of their friends.  Honestly, I wish we were that passionate about our community of faith.  I believe the place to start is to invite people to come meet your friends.  The church has all the potential in the world to grow if each of us would do our part and invite someone to come with us.

And for the last part of this question – yes!  Yes we will continue to do all that we can to sustain our missional emphasis.  In typical fashion we could always use more volunteers especially for efforts like Rainbow Readers.  But for the most part we are a church that has a well-balanced approach to external ministry opportunities.  And as an enticement – mark your calendars for September 8th and 9th because we will be doing our second annual service weekend – SERVE2012!  I am excited and pumped about the chance for all of us to serve the community together.

Why don’t we have more members of the congregation  step up for volunteer opportunities to be engaged for more than just an hour on Sunday? (2 of you asked this question)
Actually this is not a new phenominon.  There is an age old business axiom called the Perato Principle, the law of the vital few or the 80/20 rule.  Basically it states that 80% of the work is typically done by 20% of the people.  It is a principle that is used in business, government, and economics along with managment consulting and the move toward total quality management and six sigma. 

The reality is that many of us hear the call of Christ to come and serve but few of us actually answer the call.  The staff and our volunteer leaders will continue to use the strategy we have used – we will announce the opportunities that are before us, we will extend personal invitations to serve, and we will recruit on the fly when necessary.  Realistically beyond teaching, preaching and extending the invitation to volunteer there is not much left for me or our team to do.  The ball really is in your court – you have to determine when and how you will answer God’s call.

Well, I hope this answers a few more of your important questions.  Please look for next week’s blog entry as we tackle the next round of the questions that are on your mind.  Blessings.

About Jim Hoffman

Pastor, teacher, leader, novice blogger, wanna be author and Christian conversationalist. Passionate about environmental architecture - creating spaces where people can foster new or growing relationships with each other and God. Currently leads a faith community on Ward Parkway in Kansas City and happily married to Margaret. Blessed with four adult children and two grandsons.
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