Posts Tagged ‘2020 Vision’

by Mark Larson

With the year 2020 only weeks away, this seems like a good time to check in on our many initiatives; to see how God has used our church to spread his seeds of love.

As we reexamine the 12 goals of our 2020 Vision, let’s think about two questions: “What did we accomplish?” and “What did we learn about God’s will for Richmond’s First Baptist Church?”

Your level of involvement in the 2020 Vision process will inform your answers. Were you among the hundreds who participated in the town halls? They produced a thousand responses that guided the 2020 Vision Team. Were you among the hundred who volunteered for one of the twelve Implementation Teams?

As the co-chair of the 2020 Vision process, I was blessed to watch over the entire process for four years and observe each team pour their souls into the planning.

As Bill Wilson predicted, not all our goals were realized as envisioned—but so many were. I know God continues to use each team’s work for the benefit of our church and His Kingdom. Here’s my perspective on what was accomplished:

Don't look now; it's almost 2020We now have a discipleship blueprint for our children and youth programs. This guide spells out how we seek to nurture the faith of our children, their growth in the image of Christ, and lead them to become followers of Jesus.

Well-attended marriage enrichment seminars continue to be held every fifth Sunday. A part of this effort is a social media site called “Us First” that regularly sends encouragement and helpful tips for sustaining a healthy marriage.

Don't look now; it's almost 2020Have you seen our community garden lately? The first full year in partnership with Tricycle Gardens went very well. Urban farmers work one-acre plots at the church’s property in Hanover County after being trained by Tricycle. Fresh produce from the First Baptist plot was harvested throughout the summer and used to feed families in “food desert” areas in Richmond.

Our partnership with local schools Glen Lea Elementary and Albert Hill Middle continues through the work of several dedicated members. They provide support to teachers, take on small projects, and serve as lunch buddies to students. Our Children’s Ministry is getting involved through a mission project to collect clothes for children at Glen Lea.

The Adult Discipleship team was very ambitious in setting out ten objectives for the Formation Team to implement over time. “Leadership FBC” continues to prepare our emerging lay leaders for service to our church.

New this summer was 3D groups (dinner, discussion, discipleship).  Each 3D group had 8 – 10 participants who meet over dinner to delve deeper into the pastor’s most recent sermon. The small group size provided a comfortable place for discussion. New 3D leaders are being trained as we form new groups.

Speaking of small groups, some initiatives haven’t yet bloomed to the degree we hoped: interest groups and the formation of 100 small groups. Having common goals, these two teams joined efforts but still found it challenging to start and sustain new small groups.

In trying to understand the challenges, we realized over 100 groups already exist with some connection to FBC. These groups are not necessarily small nor even meet within our Monument Avenue facility, but they provide a sense of community that is so important for spiritual and personal relationships. New small group creation remains a high priority and church leadership is exploring ways to nurture and sustain such groups.

Another team with a similar realization looked at our connection to the neighborhoods that surround our church. While they initiated several outreach activities, a quick survey revealed we are already very engaged with our neighbors. Would you believe that on an average week, as many as 500 neighbors walk through First Baptist’s doors? Most of these are young families who participate in Upward, Scouts, City Singers Youth Choir, Vacation Bible School and First Baptist Preschool.

So we have all these neighbors already coming into our building each week. There seems to be an obvious opportunity for invitation right in front of us.

For two years, a small group of young adults provided worship at an alternative time other than Sunday morning. The “Gathering at Five” was an intimate and casual Sunday evening service with an average attendance of around 30. In the end, it became apparent that most participants had already attended church that morning. They were there primarily to support the worship team and provide a welcoming atmosphere. Though it didn’t take off as envisioned, many friendships were formed and several members were given a chance to be worship leaders.

Don't look now; it's almost 2020As a result of the visioning process, our communication team now has a clearer picture of how media is changing and a plan for how it can be used most effectively at FBC. With the use of Shelby Systems as our new database and a completely redesigned website, members, regular attendees and staff are now better informed and connected. The new system also provides a mobile app with a pictorial directory of contact information for those who sign into the system and populate it with their data. A giving portal is also available for those who prefer to give online.

Also in the near future, expect a new focus on telling the First Baptist story so others in Richmond can see and join our mission efforts.

Finally, a team examined how we use our gathering spaces. They listened to four years of feedback from all the other teams and soon will propose a few changes to common spaces around the church. Tweaking a few spaces really could help us welcome and connect with all who enter our doors.

A common thread seems woven into the mission and results of each team. It’s a desire to build and strengthen relationships within the family, with each other, and with our neighbors across Richmond. This is an echo of Christ’s command that we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind—and love our neighbors as ourselves.

When relationships are carefully planted and nurtured, love is bound to grow!




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by Alice E. Brette

As part of 2020 Vision, a church-wide process begun in 2016 to seek God’s vision for Richmond’s First Baptist Church for the next five years, the Communication Team charged the Communication Ministry with creating a new website for First Baptist.

Our team began to create the information architecture for the new site in fall of 2017. Based on results of the 2020 Vision Communication Survey and data from Google Analytics, the Communication Team organized the website content into the two ways people search most often: the time an event happens and group affiliation. We began with a card sort, each menu item listed on a brightly colored index card. We sought to lay it out in the most user-friendly manner for both first time and returning visitors, and held meetings with several groups of staff members to learn about the needs of the specific groups they serve, moving their sections’ cards around as needed. We brought all the different forms of media scattered throughout the site into one place called “Church Anytime.” Most importantly, we placed links to the top ten most often visited pages directly on the home page. Finally, the team created a flow chart from the cards and presented it to the staff for their approval.

A Vision Becomes Reality

The team chose KeyWeb Concepts to create the visual design and host the site and signed a contract with them in June 2018. In February, we signed off on the final design and the web developers at KeyWeb began to write code for the WordPress templates.

We completed the website content migration during May and June, writing HTML5 and editing copy and photographs, and set a firm date for the site launch.

A Vision Becomes RealityWe created a list of 30 beta testers from our church membership to give the new site a test drive on the development server during June before it went live. The team gave them specific tasks to complete so we could compile their answers and find any negative trends to correct before launch.One tester praised us by saying, “VERY nice progress! Great improvement!” but also said he had a bit of a learning curve with the new menus. Another asked us to add a title of “Search” in the search bars to make them more obvious, which we did. One tester provided a very thorough proofreading and many corrections, which was a great gift to us and saved us some time. Thank you to all the beta testers. Your comments were very helpful in refining the site and in creating the marketing plan for the launch.

In coordination with the Finance Office, the team integrated a secure portal and a mobile app on our new site that allows church members and regular attendees access to an always up-to-date pictorial church directory, to maintain their own database records, and to have secure online giving and event registration. Within the website portal and mobile app, which we call MyFBC, you can track your giving for the last seven years, make a one-time gift and set up recurring giving and connect with your church family right from the palm of your hand. Go to fbcrichmond.org and click the MyFBC How To button on the home page to learn how to get set up.

The new site launched on July 15, 2019 at fbcrichmond.org. FBC now has a modern, mobile-first site design with improvements in accessibility and in the underlying technology. The new website is designed to make the information most of you look for often the easiest to find. We hope you will use it, enjoy it and that it serves the congregation of First Baptist well for many years to come.

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Story by Mark Larson. Photos by Susan Brown, Ann Carter and Win Grant.

calloutRecently, I’ve been asking people what comes to their minds when hearing the word “movement.” The first response is almost always an object in motion or a change in locations. Some will even wiggle about to illustrate the point. When I ask again but put “movement” in the context of a group working towards a common vision, the response is usually something huge and historic—struggles of the suffragettes or the 1960s fight for civil rights.

We as a church discerned the 2020 Vision to be God’s will for us. As the Implementation Teams create plans and activities to fulfill that vision, they consider how their work can become a movement to change us and change our city. How are we trying to accomplish that? Here are a few examples.

2020 Vision becomes a movement.Some groups like the Marriage Enrichment Team dove right in, building on efforts started last year. They created a Facebook page, Us First, to share articles and inspiration. In the spring, the team presented a series of Sunday morning programs on family relationships and on Sunday, July 30, will sponsor another program during the Bible study hour. This group’s vision is for Richmond’s First Baptist Church to become as well known for marriage enrichment as we are for divorce recovery.

2020 Vision becomes a movement.In one of our 2016 town hall meetings, Bill Wilson reminded us that First Baptist is already doing many things quite well but we want to build on that success. Our outreach to local schools is one example. Working with Glen Lea Elementary School in recent years helped us realize that our church could make a lasting impact on children. With that goal in mind, the School Implementation Team reached out to Albert Hill Middle, the closest school to our church. The school’s principal was excited about the possibility of a partnership and also connected us with her counterpart at John B. Cary Elementary. This spring before school ended, the team provided lunch to teachers and staff during teacher appreciation week and returned to assist teachers in the pack-up and clean-up of their classrooms—a great, personal way to get the partnership started. Going forward, the effort will be finding mentors to connect with children—to commit to nurturing, ongoing relationships through the lunch buddy program and tutoring for those students needing help with homework or reading and math skills.

2020 Vision becomes a movement.Sometimes a team recognizes its mission is not exactly what they first thought. The team connecting to the neighborhoods around our church started envisioning many activities that could be created for our neighbors. Wanting to do something right away, they gave out 400 bottles of water and Koozies® to spectators at the spring 10K race. The Koozies, which referenced mission work done by our church, helped this team realize that their real task might be less about creation and more about communication. FBC already has many great programs—we just need to let our neighbors know and invite their participation. To start that process, each team member will establish a relationship with one of the neighborhood associations. In addition, the team recognized that more than 500 non-member families regularly come into our church through Vacation Bible School, Weekday Preschool, Scouting, and Upward Basketball. To expand FBC’s connection with these families, the Neighborhood Team’s next goal is to personally invite each of these families to events like concerts and the outdoor movie series.

2020 Vision becomes a movement.September 10, ONE Sunday, is an important day at our church. During the Bible study hour, the church family will gather in Flamming Hall to fellowship and hear more stories from the 2020 teams. How will these stories transform into a movement that brings the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, that changes us and our city? The transformation depends on each of us connecting with the mission of one of these teams and getting involved. What will your part be in the movement?

Mark LarsonMark Larson serves as co-chair of the 2020 Vision and Oversight Teams. He is a deacon and teller, but most known for his long service as a preschool teacher and Scout leader. A recently-retired architect, Mark now volunteers as Council Commissioner for Central Virginia Scouting. He and Carrie were married at First Baptist 35 years ago.

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2020 Vision

By Anne Keo. Photos by Allison Maxwell.

“Then afterward, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).

2020 VisionRichmond’s First Baptist Church is entering an important visioning process in which the entire congregation will work together to discern God’s will for the church in the next five years and beyond.

Discerning God’s will can stir up a range of emotions – excitement for the possibilities and potential only God can provide, nervous anticipation for when and what God will speak to our hearts, and sometimes hesitation or fear of what God’s will truly is and if we as His followers can carry it out. Christ laid out some important commands for His followers. While we as Christians and fellow congregants can agree to those commands, what does it really look like when we as a people and a church act on those commands of loving God, loving neighbors, loving self, and making disciples? This is where our 2020 Vision process comes in.

Dr. Bill Wilson, founder of The Center for Healthy Churches, is guiding the Vision Facilitation Team in leading this visioning process with the congregation. The team has met with Bill several times to learn about the vision model the church will be following, Appreciative Inquiry (AI). AI is a process of identifying the strengths, efficiencies and positive impacts of an organization. Many business experts agree that AI can be a more productive process for groups than a focus on problem-solving or negative aspects, which narrow the ability to vision for the future. While many churches begin a vision process because of a tangible problem, healthy, thriving churches frequently go through a vision process every 5-10 years. FBC is looking to remain a healthy and thriving church by discerning God’s will. Through this visioning process, our church will discuss the ministries, missions and functions that are FBC’s best and that are most aligned with God’s will. We will then be able to make decisions for our future rooted in our strengths and God’s desires for our church. As Bill has often told the Facilitation Team, “we are finding what we do really well, and pouring jet fuel on it.”

2020 VisionMost exciting about this vision process is the critical role members and friends of First Baptist Church have through their participation in discerning God’s will together. Students through senior adults will gather together on the mornings of April 24, May 15 and June 12 to discuss FBC’s past, present and future. Discussion questions will guide our conversations around the tables. Every person’s input will be read, prayed over, and will guide the Vision Facilitation Team’s summer work in discerning God’s will and creating an actionable plan for our church.

We need every member and friend to join us on this exciting and important journey. Together we will dream dreams, see visions, and follow God’s will for Richmond’s First Baptist Church.

Editor’s notes:
Team members are Mark Larson and Clint Smith, co-chairs, Allen Brown, Virginia Darnell, Anne Keo, Shawnae Lacy, Michael Lipford, Jim Norvelle, Julie Pierce, Lee Stephenson, Charles Tilley, and Lisa Tuck.

Sunday morning schedule for the sessions:
•    8:30 a.m. – Continental breakfast, Flamming Hall (No 8:30 worship)
•    9-10:30 a.m. – Visioning with Bill Wilson among facilitator-led small groups, Flamming Hall (No Bible study for Youth or Adults; Sunday School available for preschool through fifth grade)
•    11:00 a.m. – One worship service, Sanctuary

There will be makeup sessions on Wednesday evenings (April 27, May 18 and June 15) for those who cannot attend on Sunday. These will be intentionally smaller and shorter in length.

Read related story, Building on FBC’s past to guide its future.

Ann KeoAnne Keo is a Richmond native and has been at First Baptist Church since birth. She is a deacon, member of the Young Couples Sunday School Class and active with various children’s and adult ministries. She enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing and spending time outdoors with her family. Anne and her husband, Kamnab, have two children, Aiden and Lilly Ann.

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