Five Years of FaithServes
by Case Thorp | Reprinted from COLUMNS Magazine
Five years ago First Pres’ Mission Committee presented to the Session of our church a fresh, new approach to engaging the world with Christ’s love. After eighteen months of study, conversation, and prayer – FaithServes was born.
Our mission leadership found the inherited models for leading a congregation in mission were stale. With the rapid secularization of society and increased marginalization of the Christian voice, it was necessary to shift our focus to making First Pres a missional church, rather than a church with mission projects.
A seven-part strategy for future ministry was adopted by the Session, and 5 years later, our FaithServes Leadership Team is faithfully continuing to model those in our church family. Because our vision was for the long haul and not quick solutions, we had to become more patient in our approach. A 135+ year old church does not change or equip itself within a semester, or even a few years. Even now, at the five year mark, the FaithServes Leadership Team continues to re-imagine and adapt along the way.
I am a big proponent that all church strategies and commitments not only need regular review to see how we are doing, but that celebration is an essential component to maintaining vision and momentum.
Year five isn’t the end, and we have much more to do. Yet, I hope this update and progress report will renew your heart as to our call as a body to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the community and world, using words when necessary.
Part 1: Leadership
Changing the Governing Structure
FaithServes has become the new name for both our Mission Department and lay-directed Mission Committee. But for us, the idea of “FaithServes” expresses more than just the work and name of our team: it shares a missional way of thinking that we hope will permeate every part of the church.
By design, our church ministries don’t just randomly work with different mission efforts, but coordinate with our 10 strategic mission partners: FOUR12, Infant Child Care Center, the Madagascar Initiative, the Mercy Corridor Initiative, Compassion Corner, Grace Medical Home, Mission Emanuel, IDignity and the Gathering.
Part 2: Inspiration
Hosting “Catalytic” Events
Our first big FaithServes Conference was a great success. I will forever remember the candlelight processional to the Great Lawn where we echoed our commitment to take the light of Christ far and wide. As we continue, a series of smaller events have done a great job educating and inspiring, and have proven a better fit for our church culture than one big annual event.
Examples include our Urban Ministry Conference with Tony Campolo, hosting Dignity Serves classes, and our new quarterly “Introductions to Serving the City” workshop, which helps to teach and equip our church family for serving.
Part 3: Concentration
“To dig fewer wells and dig them deeper, and when more workers come, to dig more deep wells,” was our mantra to develop deeper relationships when we started. The FaithServes Leadership Team has worked hard to refine our mission partnerships from 80+ to a focused few local and global partners.
Narrowing down to ten strategic mission partners was difficult, especially with so many effective partners connected to our church family. Yet we’ve seen God move in great ways as our relationships with our strategic 10 come to fruition. Now, only a few partners are consistently put before the church in worship, in communication, and for campus resources. We continue to work alongside affiliate partners, but the simplicity, focus, and consistency of our core ten has been significant. Our partners have responded with joy, and we’ve seen dramatically increased participation and support from our church family.
Part 4: Mobilization
Connecting Church Members to Opportunities
Our mobilization plan is focused on mission through discipleship (the process of becoming more like Jesus). One way we instill the values and commitments of Jesus is through the experience of serving.
Our church‘s missional effectiveness is proportional to its discipleship depth. The deeper we go in Christ, the deeper we’ll reach out with His love.
LIFE Communities have certainly been a vehicle for serving. Our website is being retooled to make dynamic group and individual opportunities to serve easily available at fpco.org/servenow. Finally, as our methods of discipleship evolve in the next year, we will see a more intentional investment in missional community.
Part 5: Stewardship
Reviewing & Realigning our Fundraising
We’ve researched and developed an integrated approach for how we raise funds for mission partners, including our own ministries.
The Infant Child Care Center, Compassion Corner, and FOUR12 have each identified their fundraising mechanisms and donor relationships. A five-year plan to increase mission giving was adopted by the Session, and in terms of dollars, ‘giving in mission’ grows each year.
Part 6: Serve Day
Sponsoring a Church Wide Day to Volunteer
Six Serve Days later, thousands of people have logged tens of thousands of hours serving our community. ServeDay has proven to be a seminal event in the life of the church, averaging 600 people in the spring and 300 in the fall. To God be the glory. (Save the Date for March 14, 2015!)
Part 7: Transformation
Instituting Culture Change
We’ve sought to give voice to God’s mission in every aspect of the life of this church, working with staff and leaders in many areas.
FaithServes team members act as liasons to the Generosity Team, Support Committee and Heart of the City Foundation Mission Committee, to help educate and offer perspective. We’re also seeing deeper integration between ministries and missional efforts. Our FOUR12 mentoring program is beginning an 18-month process of transitioning to Mercy Drive with Mercy Drive Ministries Achievers’ Club. The Jobs Partnership classes continue, with a renewed structure and model. Compassion Corner is now directed by the director of Central Care Mission, Spence Pfleiderer, helping to provide a continuum of care for the homeless community. Each Friday, IDignity works at Compassion Corner to distribute documents. Finally, Phil Hissom, Executive Director of POLIS, an urban ministry research center and training outfit, recently became
FPCO’s Missional Theologian in Residence.
For ongoing & updated ways to serve, visit fpco.org/servenow