Thursday, November 18, 2010

The new strategic plan--get on board!

I’m still singing inside about the approval (131-6-2 in a written ballot) last week by our Presbytery to approve a new Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan includes guidelines, a new vision, values, major focus and ten three year goals. The plan can be seen at: An article describing the vote of the Presbytery can be found here: The blogs that Chaz Ruark wrote about the plan (he is the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery) can be found here:

I was part of the group who developed the Strategic Plan. I attended two, all-day planning sessions and attended one follow-up meeting in addition to sharing a few E-mail comments to the group. I helped lead a small group conversation about the plan at the September Presbytery meeting and spoke in favor of the plan at last week’s meeting. However I don’t consider my involvement that significant in the development of the plan.

This strategic plans works for me for a number of reasons.

First, the plan is on one page. It’s not a twenty page document that will get lost in a file drawer. The plan is clear, bold, and easily measurable.

Second, the plan was brought through the process of the Presbytery. I know many people still bemoan the lack of implementation of the last Strategic Planning process—known as the Summit. That effort was a two-day gathering of leaders. I attended the gathering and loved the energy of the event. The follow-up to that plan clearly was designed poorly. Task Forces came out of the Summit and did meet, but there was no accountability to the Presbytery or follow-up with the Presbytery. This plan was different. The Strategy group was appointed by the Presbytery Council; the group presented their plan to the Presbytery Council for approval; the plan was shared with the Presbytery for feedback; the plan was then voted upon by the Presbytery. I’m guessing that for some the process happened too quickly—I rejoice that it went through the process!

Third, the new vision is sizzling—“We fearlessly follow the Holy Spirit into a changing world.” This vision encourages the Presbytery, staff, committees, and churches to take risks. What can be more exciting than being led by the Holy Spirit? Phil Gebben-Green did a terrific job last Tuesday of drilling down into the nuances of what it means to fearlessly follow. I hope he submits the comments he made at the Presbytery meeting for the rest of us to read.

Fourth, the plan is a paradigm shift in starting new faith communities. In my work on the committee I advocated for goal #7. That goal is: “Encourage 10 churches to launch new, distinct faith communities in the following 3 years, and welcome new faith communities into fellowship of Presbytery.” We need to re-claim the idea of churches starting new faith communities. Part of the mission of every congregation is to fearlessly follow the Holy Spirit by discerning how they can initiate new faith communities. We can’t wait for a committee of the Presbytery to start new faith communities. This is a task of the local congregation. I would be surprised if ten churches in the next three years can’t imagine how they could start or welcome a new faith community in the following three years. To implement this goals means we would have ten new faith communities by January 2017. Even though we at Chain of Lakes Church are still small—and growing—I will be encouraging us to start a new faith community by January 2017. I’d like us to be one of those ten churches.

Fifth, the plan articulates the need to support congregations. I see the role of Presbytery committees and staff to empower congregations and pastors and not create separate programs. I believe the ministries of the Presbytery should be rooted in congregational ministries.

Sixth, the plan had an advocate (Karen Morey from Best Year Yet) who will hold the Presbytery Council accountable for implementation of the plan.

I hope that this plan also encourages our Presbytery to do a better job of helping congregations during pastoral transitions. We have much to improve on this issue.

Many of us have expectations of the Presbytery Council to implement this plan. If you are on the Council, let me say with the best pastoral sensitivity which I can share that we expect you to make the implementation of this plan your number one priority.

I know that nay-sayers to this plan exist. I understand that our Presbyterian culture encourages skepticism. To the nay-sayers and skeptics I say get on board. You can sit on the sidelines with your hands folded and be critical, and I know there are reasons to be critical. I’ve been critical of the Presbytery in this blog. But if you wait for the perfect plan, you’ll be waiting for a long time. This plan is the best opportunity I’ve seen in 17 years of Presbytery involvement to be united on a common vision. The train is leaving the track, and I hope that everyone gets on board.


Neil said...

I have to disagree with you. I feel the plan is in many ways amorphous and unmeasurable.
The first goal, "facilitate a sense of connection among congregations and ministers," what does this mean and what does it look like? What is a "sense" of connection as opposed to a real connection?

There is nothing in the strategic plan that explains how the ten goals are tied into the strategy of the presbytery or how any of the goals will be measured.

I'm also disappointed in the vision of the Presbytery. Ever since I came to faith some 25 years ago I have been trying hard to follow Jesus in this world and I will continue to try and "fearlessly follow Jesus into a changing world." It is the Holy Spirit that enables me to do this. It may seem like a small distinction but I think it may tend to lead towards a functional modalism. Some further discussion on trinitarian theology may be needed on this one.

Chainoflakesncd said...

Thanks for the comments.
Some of the goals are more specific than others and any of us can word smith goals until Jesus returns. The very important point is if we achieve these goals by the end of 2013 we will be a much more different and exciting Presbytery—much more doing the work that God is calling us to do. I believe that we as a Presbytery haven’t achieved these ten goals, and these goals are critical for our success.

I don’t think the use of “Holy Spirit” leads us into modalism. The Holy Spirit has been a neglected and undervalued person of the Trinity. I am passionately dedicated to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I see the Holy Spirit as leading me to grow to be the person God desires for me to be. I absolutely want Jesus to be my example, guide, instructor, judge—I could use many different nouns. I see the Holy Spirit as leading me to have Jesus as my example, guide, instructor, judge.

As a follower of Jesus I believe that Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of God the Father, Creator. Calvin and Osiander had a vigorous discussion about Jesus’ place in the world. Perhaps we could have a study group on that discussion and Trinitarian theology in general.

Let’s keep the conversation going. These are important issues to discuss in a Christ-honoring, honest, civil, respectful, healthy, and mutually affirming manner

Jin S. Kim said...

Paul, your analysis of our new strategic plan, as well as your obvious passion for it, are equally sharp and winsome. You were a key figure in making all this happen, and I truly thank God that you have been "strategically" placed by God at both Chain of Lakes and our presbytery. We've had enough conversation and consultation on this; let's get on board or get out of the way.