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: http://presbyterytwincities.org/ptca-strategic-plan/. An article describing the vote of the Presbytery can be found here:
http://presbyterytwincities.org/2010/11/11/strategic-plan-passes-at-november-presbytery-meeting/. The blogs that Chaz Ruark wrote about the plan (he is the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery) can be found here: http://presbyterytwincities.org/.
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.