Monday, April 21, 2008

Strategic Planning: Church Identity

This last Saturday the Strategic Planning team for our church held its first of six meetings. We have a big job ahead of us: discovering the identity, values, mission, vision and strategy that God has for us in pursuing our calling to the community we're planted in. During the first meeting we spent time in prayer, and then sought to candidly evaluate where the present ministry has come from, how it's doing and where it should go. This was a general overview that will receive much, much more detailed scrutiny as we proceed forward. However, this first meeting was a very productive time in which we unanimously agreed that the process of discovering our new direction was necessary to faithfully execute the mission for which God has brought us to this place.

As a result, it was necessary that we determine what identity label best suited the church as it presently is, and will be moving forward (i.e. a new church name). Pam, adept at creative exercises such as brainstorming and storyboarding, led us in a brainstorming session for church name possibilities. The ideas flowed out of the team members, from the very basic to the outlandish. We reserved judgment on the ideas offered until we were sure that the exercise was exhausted. Then we went through the process of eliminating those ideas for church names that we agreed did not fit who we are, or will be in the future.

Our reasoning (collectively) for advancing and eliminating ideas was based on two principles: for the church name to (1) reflect something of the specific geographical calling placed on us by God by his sovereign moving of the church to Fate, and (2) to reflect the specific and honest convictions, character and culture of the church as well. These two principles represented two columns of ideas that were written on the white-board as we threw them out into the conversation.

Many geographical names were suggested, but in the end it was agreed that the neighboring community of Woodcreek was the most obvious geographical marker to represent our local calling. In addition, many ideas were suggested to represent our convictions, character and church culture. We also considered not even having something specific in this area, but decided that keeping a generic name also does not fit our church either. Therefore, it was unanimous that we believe as, act like and most resemble that strain of churches in evangelicalism that are called "Bible" churches. This is not because we alone believe the Bible. Many church traditions do. However, there is a type of church that has inherited specific cultural and character distinctives from the "Bible Church" movement of the 20th century, while trying to progressively remain relevant to the changing culture. This type is often called a "Bible Church," and fits very well within many conservative denominations, though maintaining its unique feel and operation.

For these reasons, the strategic planning team unanimously agreed to advance the name "Woodcreek Bible Church" as the most accurate label for our church as it presently is and as it will be going forward. This, of course, awaits official ratification from the congregation, who must vote on matters which amend or alter our constitution. In addition, even after the new name is ratified by the church vote, the chores of changing documents, accounts, etc. begins also. This is no small task. But the mission of God untrusted to us in the community is well worth it.

The question is never, "Will this be a lot of work?" Of course it's a lot of work. The missio Dei is ALWAYS a lot of work. The question is, "Is this mission worth the work?" The answer is a resounding, "YES!" The work is just made all the more worth it when you know what the mission is.

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