The members were Maribeth Peiniger, Katherine Mosier, Terry Rich, Linda Tripp and Mike Astle.
The team’s purpose was to work with Jim in guiding Community Congregational Church through the time of transition between called pastors. The team’s initial objective was to help the congregation step back and take a look at itself by deciding on appropriate ways for the congregation to reflect on past and present happenings as a way of planning for the future.
To get this process started, the team planned and conducted Invitation to the Future: Your Voice Counts! This all-church event was held on Saturday afternoon, May 7, 2016, at the church and was attended by 40 members and friends. It was a fun and lively event to begin to develop a new sense of congregational identity and envision a future for Community Church. We began by looking to the past through a timeline activity in which people located themselves on a church history timeline according to when they joined the church.
Throughout Invitation to the Future many wonderful ideas insights and dreams for the church were shared. These were the raw material for a report the team presented to the Executive Council in June.
the report included summary statements about the congregation’s Identity (Values) and Envisioning a Future. The purpose of these statements was to provide guidance for the church during this interim time. The congregation’s concern for strengthening programs for children and youth came through clearly in the report. Even before the report was presented, the council had acted to extend Sunday School through the summer and hire a teacher. Another priority was to provide a warm welcome to Sunday morning worship guests. The council and Jim acted on this by forming a team of Welcomers to undertake this ministry to newcomers.
To continue work on the church identity (values) and envisioning a future, the team adopted Jim’s recommendation to enter into a six-month coaching relationship with Dr. Tom Bandy, from Toronto, a widely known authority on what is necessary for churches to thrive in the 21st century. The council approved the team’s proposal and provided the necessary funding.
Bandy guided the team in planning an event with council and other interested members to meet the Search Committee’s need for information on the congregation’s identity and beliefs to put in the church profile. The event was held at the church Saturday, December 3. The purpose was for participants to agree on the church’s Core Values and Bedrock Beliefs. A Core Value is an action, a verb not a noun. It is a standard of behavior we try to practice in our daily living. A Bedrock Belief is a faith conviction to which we turn for strength in times of trouble.
The result of the event was lists of the church’s Core Values and Bedrock Beliefs. These were presented to the congregation for feedback during sermon discussion times in worship during late January and early February. After considering the feedback, the team revised the lists which were then approved by the council. The 11 Core Values and 5 Bedrock Beliefs were published and made available to the congregation. These are the foundation for the church to use for envisioning a future.
Discussions of the church’s future always come back to church growth. Bandy introduced the team to MissionInsite, what he said is the most important church growth tool of the last 30 years. It is an online resource based on sophisticated demographic studies of the United States’ population that groups people into 71 Lifestyle Segments. People in each segment are in the same age group, have similar socioeconomic backgrounds and have similar attitudes, world views and approaches to life. Of special
interest to churches are beliefs, practices and needs regarding religion. Bandy provided detailed information about the Lifestyle Segments most strongly represented within a 10 mile radius of Community Church. This information was shared with the Search Committee, the council and the congregation. It will be very helpful in envisioning a future for Community Church in terms of outreach, mission and church growth.
Jim gives heartfelt thanks to Maribeth, Katherine, Linda, Terry and Mike for their devoted service to the Transition Team. He says it was a pleasure to get to know each of you and he appreciates the unique contributions you made to the team and to Community Church.