2013 Growth Summit – Implementing the Vision
The Reverend Dr. Patrick Malloy from The General Theological Seminary, and the Reverend Peter Vanderveen opened the Summit with a discussion of the central role of the liturgy in finding answers to life’s questions and challenges. Peter asked that we think carefully about our “intentions” when we open the Book of Common Prayer and participate in the liturgy. “Are we leaning in to build the growth and vitality of The Redeemer or are we leaning in any direction at all?”
The Growth Summit was designed to identify ways to create additional forward momentum within The Redeemer “where persons of all stages of life feel a natural inclination to be engaged in the worship, mission and fellowship of the Church,” said Peter. “Church involvement should be compelling, not obligatory; rewarding, not exhausting.”
The 2012 Growth Summit kicked off the all parish focus on growth and development. Five key recommendations came out of the 2012 Growth Summit:
· Translate the mission of The Redeemer into the work of the Church
· Use our committees, groups and task forces to draw new/existing members into the life of the Church
· Strengthen and broaden our communications practices to ensure members have a complete and consistent understanding of the focus and priorities of The Redeemer, the work that supports it, and how they can be involved
· Improve our efforts around newcomers, less active members of The Redeemer, and parents whose children are in high school and college
· Do more to track and report our progress in achieving our growth objectives.
Over the last year much work has been done to implement the recommendations from the 2012 Growth Summit, including the development of more structure around the objectives and activities of committees, groups and task forces; more involvement of the Vestry in working directly with individual committees/groups to support their agendas and work; development of a new communications plan supported by a detailed implementation program for the Green Sheets, Voice, the website of The Redeemer; a program for more consistent feedback on the priorities and preferences of parishioners; and, confirmation by the Vestry of the metrics and approach that will be used to track and report progress to the parish.
The 2013 Growth Summit focused on how we will implement our vision for growth. Specifically, the objectives were to:
· Provide additional clarity on the vision for The Redeemer and the importance of leadership in building a sustaining, vigorous and growing church
· Determine the 2013-2014 implementation priorities/plans for growing The Redeemer and bringing the vision to life
· Engage the parish in plans for moving the priorities and plans forward with particular focus on three segments of the congregation – newcomers, less active members, and parents of high school and college students.
Over the summer, the Growth and Development Committee solicited the views and recommendations of these three segments of The Redeemer community to understand how the Church can enhance the way it engages with these members. The specific goals for these surveys follow.
1. Newcomers – those new to The Redeemer over the last several years. The goal was to determine how the Church could build on the work of the New Committee, the Greeters and the Ushers to further engage newcomers in the life of The Redeemer.
2. Leaning Active – long term members of The Redeemer community who have not been active in the work of the Church or worship for the last several years. The goal was to understand if there are other ways The Redeemer could better meet the needs of these members.
3. Phase II Parents – parents with children in high school or college. The goal was to determine if there are additional ways The Redeemer can support these parents as the structure of their family changes.
The results of these surveys were used to support workshops at the Summit whose purpose was to recommend three actions The Redeemer can take to address the unique needs of these individual groups. (See below for more details on the survey results.)
Recommendations from the Workshops
Participants rolled up their sleeves and developed creative and practical recommendations for each of these specific groups, including what will be required to be successful with our efforts. These recommendations are summarized below.
· More coordination and training of groups that come into contact with newcomers to The Redeemer: New Committee members, Ushers, Greeters, coordinators for new activities/projects, Christian education and the like.
· Comprehensive plan for making the campus more welcoming including detailed lighting plan, review of the plantings to ensure we are not creating unanticipated walls or barriers, better signage, enhancing the welcoming components of the gates, and easier access to welcoming information.
· New/enhanced efforts to welcome our local community to Church events and the campus of The Redeemer regardless of religious preferences.
Workshop participants underscored the need to ensure information on Church activities, events and opportunities must be easy to find and access.
· Reinforce the importance of one to one conversations and invitations. Too often we rely on mass mailings and emails to solicit involvement in the work of the Church. Whenever possible, we should reach out directly to invite members to participate in the work of the Church.
· Identify a few “re-entry points” that may be of interest to those who are less active. We need to be clear that “faith questioners” are welcome at The Redeemer. We all are on a journey and all are welcome at The Redeemer regardless of where we are on the path. We should develop specific programming that addresses the needs/challenges of different life stages.
· Organize a subcommittee of the Stewardship effort to call everyone in the parish to ensure all feel welcome.
Workshop participants cautioned that it was extremely important that the Church’s response to this group be welcoming and involving in the activities of the Church. The goal should be to bring them back into the mainstream of the Church.
Phase II Parents
· Provide another opportunity for parishioners to participate in the liturgy such as a Sunday evening service, a “come as you are” less formal service on Sunday evening, and/or Thanksgiving service to welcome children home. Focus on making the liturgy more intimate and centered on healing.
· Develop programming that focuses on addressing the changing family relationships with the help of outside speakers that recognize address key issues such as a recognition that changes are ahead for those with younger children, the need for better connectivity, etc.
· Create intergenerational activities and opportunities that focus on such things as parents caring for children’s spiritual growth and the importance of dynamic leadership through the next phases of parenting.
Workshop participants cautioned that these efforts would only be successful if effective leaders were engaged to structure and guide the activities. They also believe that it is extremely important that the Church cultivate a culture that fosters support for one another through life’s changes and challenges.
The Vestry and the Growth and Development Committee will work together on implementation details and priorities. Parishioners can expect regular updates on progress relative to these recommendations.
Click here for a PDF of the survey compilations.