Posts Tagged ‘vision’

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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By Susan Beach.
visioningSome visions are received, without even asking for them. They startle us and change our plans. Mary knew that kind of vision.

But visions can also be sought. While we can be active in pursuing them, these visions may still surprise us and change our plans.

Richmond’s First Baptist Church is about that intentional visioning process now. We are seeking God’s vision for our church at this time and in this place.

So how does that happen?

Jim Somerville, FBC’s Senior Pastor, explains how we began this process: “We first discussed the idea of long-range planning because of concern about attendance and giving at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Although our giving is up over last year and our membership is actually increasing, our Sunday morning worship attendance has been in decline. The Deacon Advisory Council suggested that we do some long-range planning to address that issue and to energize the church around a shared vision for the future.”

To initiate this vision-seeking, Jim and Deacon Chair Richard Szucs invited Bill Wilson, Director of the Center for Healthy Churches (CHC), to speak via FaceTime video to the deacons in May 2015. He talked about nationwide trends in church attendance and giving and reassured us that even though the church in America is experiencing decline, those churches that are clear about their mission and identity can prosper.

The deacons responded well to Bill’s presentation. Richard said they especially resonated with his explanation that “people give their time and money to churches where people are doing things that matter and where they can be a part of something worthwhile.” This session led to a discussion of seeking a visioning process for our church.

The Center for Healthy Churches was selected as FBC’s guide for that process. CHC builds on a church’s strengths so they can be used as the foundation for future direction. Also core to this process is CHC’s emphasis on the input of the entire congregation: God’s vision will be realized as the work of discerning is shared by staff and laity alike.

To begin this work a lay leadership team has been identified. Mark Larson and Clint Smith will co-chair the team of Allen Brown, Virginia Darnell, Anne Keo, Shawnae Lacy, Michael Lipford, Jim Norvelle, Julie Pierce, Lee Stephenson, Charles Tilley, and Lisa Tuck. This Visioning Team will facilitate the work of the congregation in determining FBC’s goals for the next three to five years.

40 Days of PrayerIn January the Visioning Team will begin its orientation. During Lent, the congregation will be invited to meet in small groups in members’ homes, using 40 Days of Prayer: Preparing Ourselves for God’s Calling. This study guide and the Journey to the Cross series on Wednesday nights will combine in a Lenten emphasis, “Praying with Eyes Wide Open,” to prepare us for the next stage of our visioning process.

In that stage the entire congregation will work through the Appreciative Inquiry process – highlighting what we have done well in the past and what we are doing well in the present – in order to determine our direction for the future. These meetings will most likely be held in April and May.

Seeking a vision is work. If you want to know God’s plans for you, you must ask. And you must ask in a way that prepares you to hear – putting aside your plans and listening for His. You must do this repeatedly until you are really listening. If we want to know God’s plans for FBC, the entire church family needs to ask in a way that prepares us to hear Him.

Author’s note: On Sunday, January 17, Adult Bible Fellowships will meet in Flamming Hall at 9:45 a.m. for study and prayer around discernment and the practice of spiritual disciplines. This session, led by Lynn Turner and Susan Beach, will prepare the congregation for the Lenten “Praying with Eyes Wide Open” and the Appreciative Inquiry stages of seeking God’s vision for our church.

Visit related web pages:
Lent: Praying with Eyes Wide Open
2020 Vision

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