Pastor's Blogby Rev. Kevin Miller
Feel free to read and comment as I share my thoughts on a variety of topics that I hope you find interesting or uplifting.
February 13, 2018
Back on January 13, 30 hearty souls braved the early morning snow to gather in Tower Chapel to worship, learn and talk about leadership and the church. There was time for reflection and discussion as we learned about doing ministry “off the map” and how this might look at First United Methodist Church. (To hear my sermon based on our learnings, go to our website or our Facebook page, and listen to “Off the Map” on February 4).
The theme for the day was drawn from Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 14:12 – “I tell you the truth: whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
We live in an amazing time when we can still do “greater things” for God’s Kingdom.
An exercise I’ve found helpful over the years is called a SWOT Analysis. At our event, the group was divided into six smaller groups at tables and were asked to take about 8 minutes for each section; identifying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats at First Church.
While a SWOT Analysis is not a perfect tool, it gives us an opportunity to share thoughts and identify areas of hope and common ground. It gives us a picture of the church at this point in time. It helps us identify our current reality…which, really, is a function of leadership. Business leader and author Max DuPree wrote, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”
The list this group generated ended up to be pretty long. Your responses may differ, but the table groups agreed in many areas. Every table group found some common ground – not in all areas, but here are the top five responses identified during this exercise:
Strengths: Location/visibility Mission-oriented People (quality of talent & leadership) Quality staff Facilities
Weaknesses: Income/finances Internal conflicts (i.e. trust, communications) Lack of volunteers (a few people doing most of the work) Fewer younger people/children Sunday school & adult education
Opportunities: University outreach Youth & college-age Communication Partnering with other churches Invite & involve more people
Threats: Revenue Outside activities infringing on worship & activities Increasing secularism Insider language/cliqueiness Mind set of maintaining status quo Aging congregation Apathy Losing mission focus
So the natural question is, “What’s next?” It’s an interesting list, but what do we do with it? (good question)
The next step is to use this for a process of identifying gaps and developing goals, and a strategic plan for the next few years. Weaknesses can be changed into strengths. The trick is doing this in such a way that identified strengths don’t become weaknesses. This is the beginning of a process of developing goals that are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely. If you like acrostics, these spell “smart.”
I believe Jesus has a plan for His bride and I believe Jesus has a plan for this church. My prayer is that you and I (and we) are open and obedient to this plan as it is revealed to us AND that we have the courage to adapt and implement His plan for us. Will you join me in this prayer?