Summer is upon us, and as we catch our breath and prepare for the fall. For me, it is a time to dream and plan --- but maybe most importantly --- to take stock on where we are as a church, and try to come to some conclusions about what needs to be done.
It was just a little over a year ago that we met with the Conference Fruitful Team. While I believe they provided for us some excellent insights into some of the challenges here at Ridge Church, most of their remedies were too cookie cutter for us.
So one year later, where do things stand. They highlighted five areas of concern, and we have had varying levels of success within those areas.
Develop a clear shared Mission and Vision. For the last three years, over the first couple of weeks of January I have preached a multi-part sermon on our Vision and Mission. Every Sunday, I try to work into my sermon or a prayer our vision. My fantasy is that everybody knows what our Mission is: (Ridge Church exists to make Disciple for Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World), and what our vision (how we accomplish the mission) is: (We of Ridge United Methodist Church are united with Jesus Christ in His ministry of compassion for all people by offering HOPE, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and MEANING FOR LIFE.) The reality is we have much more work to do. As we move forward, every ministry is going to be asked to report on how they are fulfilling our Mission and Vision.
Improve Communication. This had a number of different aspects to it. One of the facets was we needed to improve our website, and last month we launched a wonderful new site. I wish I could say that it is 100% operational, but even at its current state it is much better than our previous site. We still need to improve how we communicate to non-church members through social media and traditional media sources.
A second area of communication we sought to improve was signage. This issue has not been seriously looked at yet.
A third area was how we communicate to you, the congregation. Holly has done a great job with improving the newsletter and making it relevant in style and substance. We added the rolling announcements at the start of the worship service and we send out regular emails about what is taking place. We need to tie our communication to our mission and vision better and will work on that this fall.
The biggest area we struggle with communication is as a staff. The notion that this is a problem is crazy since we meet together every week, but we have not done a good job at sharing and seeing beyond our area of expertise. This is going to be a top priority.
Stewardship. I was surprised that this was identified as a concern. The people of Ridge Church are extremely generous. You not only support our local church, but you reach out and support ministries throughout the region and the world. If there is any area of concern it is to get our debt taken care of. We need to get the Fellowship Hall paid for and do some major remodeling to the original building (Education wing). We are planning a Capital Campaign for this fall.
Are last two areas are the ones we are just now starting to get a handle on. And I have to be honest and say that I have dropped the ball on keeping them as a priority. Without a doubt they are the ones that will be the most challenging to implement, but are critical to the future of Ridge Church.
Develop an Intentional Discipleship Path. Kathy O’Brien and I are working on a model that we are going to use for confirmation this fall and adopt church-wide at some point. Beyond Disciple Bible Study, this will be the most comprehensive and intentional path that we have created. We also are looking at ways of identifying the ministries that everyone participates in, so that we ensure that nobody falls through the cracks. Keep this in your prayers along with our final prescription.
Create and Intentional Plan to Develop, Train and Deploy Staff and Leaders. Last fall, Keith Howard and I began working on a whole new way to lead the church. With Keith’s move to Denver, the hard work of creating this system ground to a halt. For the last few weeks I have been trying to put the framework we had discussed onto paper so that I can share it with a small group of leaders. My hope is that we will roll out this new framework in January,
I also am taking quite seriously the need to audit the staffs roles and responsibilities to make sure that they will be aligned with Mission and Vision of Ridge Church. This will be presented to the SPRC no later than the September meeting.
There is a great deal of exciting things going on at Ridge Church, but at the same time it is scary because we are having to honestly assess what we are doing and what we should be doing. Please keep this in your prayers!