Our discernment team has been steadily working to complete the discernment process by July. I am pleased to report that we have completed our “mission plan.” It is now a permanent page on this blog.
I can’t say enough about the amazing people on our discernment team and the work that they have done! All of them have given up countless hours over the past six months to go through this process with us and listen to seek out God’s leading for us – even in the midst of challenging life circumstances. Thank you Adam and Andrea Anderson, Jason and Becca Kreutz, John and Jackie Fuller, and Kristina Bailey! You are amazing!
What’s next? At our final team meeting we will create a timeline for the months ahead with some critical steps and we will post it on the blog. Some of these next steps include presenting our work to the sessions of Mountain View and the Executive Board of the Presbytery of North Puget Sound. Our team has completed their commitment and will be deciding what is next in their own lives. For some of them, stepping forward to be a part of our new church leadership will be the natural next step. For others, God called them for this particular purpose in the process and they will be moving forward with other forms of ministry and service.
I feel like we are approaching an exciting and critical time in our process of starting a new church. In the beginning, when we talked to people about our vision for a new faith community in Stanwood/Camano we generally were asked “where will it be?” I interpret this question as people searching to understand and grab hold of what we are trying to start. But now, when we talk with people about the new church, we often get asked “when will you start meeting?” That is usually followed up by a person indicating that they are interested in being a part of it, or that they know someone who is. These conversations are increasing in frequency – I usually have three to four a week. There is an anticipation building! Hopefully, some of this anticipation is because we have been doing a better job of communicating and clarifying our vision. However, I believe that some of it is also because God is stirring the hearts of those called to be a part of this new church and the time is drawing near!
Our discernment team had a very productive day-long retreat at Warm Beach Camp last Saturday. We wanted to have more time together to move through a larger chunk of the discernment material. Although we hoped to move through multiple “gatherings” from our handbook, what actually happened was that we spent most of our time filling in the details on our mission plan. Our team is nothing if not thorough! And I, for one, am glad that we are because when we finish something it is done with excellence and is something to be proud of! It was good that we took the time for the retreat because we discovered that we had more to discuss in the mission plan than we thought.
The mission plan is basically complete with the exception of some smaller details that need to be filled in (like some budget numbers). We hope to be ready to share it very soon. We are moving forward with the final phase of the discernment process which involves developing a “missionary plan” (leadership positions and job descriptions). Our goal is to have the discernment process wrapped up by the beginning of July so that we will be ready to present all of the material to Mountain View’s session, Presbytery Executive Board, and eventually the GA grant.
Obviously the process of starting this new faith community does not end with the conclusion of the discernment process, it just transitions into a new phase. One of the final tasks of our team will be to create a timeline for what will happen next. This will include a timeline for when we will begin worship gatherings. From there we will begin searching for the leaders we need to get things going and begin putting together a core team. All along the way we continue to pray and listen, seeking God’s steps as we go. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures (recently quoted to me by a member of our discernment team):
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
We’re at a fun point in the discernment process right now where we have completed our mission plan (rough draft) and are beginning to think about how to measure success and/or failure in the future. If your primary measure of success is not worship attendance, income, and facilities (the “three B’s” – Butts, Bucks and Buildings), then what do you measure? There are some great thoughts at the end of this short video:
I especially love that last comment by Alan Hirsch: “A mission church is a church that measures its effectives by its impact on those outside the church not simply those inside the church.” It might be a little more difficult to do, but it seems to be worth the effort.