Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out about the core values and priorities if I missed them?
The core values, mission statement and strategic priorities are available on our website at fpco.org/future and fpco.org/corevalues. Core Values Handbooks are available at the church, free of cost, to anyone who would like additional copies. Story videos and sermons about the values are also posted at fpco.org/corevalues.
How will Sunday mornings change?
The majority of changes we are making are centered around your feedback from the survey, and the direction that emerged in our vision process over the last couple of years.
- We know we need to do a better job of helping people feel and make connections at church, and build meaningful relationships with one another.
- We know we need to better equip you to live missionally in your family, workplace and neighborhood.
- We know we want our children to be part of the worship experience again in some way.
- We do know that Sunday mornings need to feel less rushed, so we can make space for relationships.
What is the new plan?
The new plan for Sunday mornings looks like this:
8:45am Genesis in the Sanctuary
9:45am - 10:15am Fellowship Time
10:15am - 10:50am Pastor’s Class & Dedicated Equipping Time
10:50am - 11:05 am Fellowship Time
11:05am Traditional worship in the Sanctuary
(Monthly: 9:45am - 11:05am Fellowship ONLY Time)
Why are there only two worship services on the new plan?
This meets two important needs expressed by our church family: two worship services allows more of our church family to be together on Sunday mornings in the same place, which in turn, creates an opportunity for new and deeper relationships. Another key factor is our current plan of four services, two venues and simulcasting means we must adhere to a rigid schedule on Sunday mornings - one that is often rushed and constrained by the need to do the next thing. People are pushed out in order to “turnover” the worship space, leaving little room for relationship. We want to make more space for relationship with one another, and especially to be able to respond to the Holy Spirit during worship.
Why did we eliminate the 8:15am Traditional and 11am Genesis services specifically?
Not only were both of these services significantly smaller in attendance, but they both have specific behaviors and practices we want to model for the whole church family. Because each of these services benefited from a little more time before or after worship, they did a great job of developing community together. They lingered to talk and made a greater effort to check in with one another weekly. We know that building more time in our schedule for fellowship will be key to us growing as a church family, but we are also eager to see these two congregations lead by example as they integrate into the new services.
What will the schedule be for children?
8:45am- All children 1st grade and older (kindergartners are welcome too!) attend worship service for about 20 minutes; children 2nd grade and younger have the option to attend choir, catechism, and bible games for the remainder of the service with Worship Arts and SHINE staff. Older children will remain in the service.
10:05am - 10:50am SHINE and STUDENT Ministry Discipleship Classes
11:05am -All children 1st grade and older (kindergartners are welcome too!) attend worship service for about 20 minutes; children 2nd grade and younger are invited (have the option?) to attend choir, catechism, and bible games for the remainder of the service with Worship Arts and SHINE staff. Older children will remain in the service.
Why bring children back into worship?
Part of our commitment to generational faithfulness as a church means recognizing that children are an essential part of the church family. Knowing that fewer and fewer children were present in worship, we are focusing our efforts on making space for them and helping them learn how to worship with the Body of Christ. Think about it: if a child only worships with children, and then only worships with other teenagers, and then only worships with college students… what kind of worship have we modeled for our children? How do they learn to participate in worship as adults? Not only do they miss an opportunity to be spiritually formed by worshipping with the church, but we miss that same opportunity, to be shaped by their presence.
What if I don’t think my children are ready?
Worship is formational for everyone present—from the youngest to the oldest (even if we think they’re not getting it) because God is present with us. Because of this, we believe children can and should participate with everyone else. Don’t underestimate them! Children are learners and will adapt more quickly than you think. There will be a learning curve but you’ll be surprised by the conversations that you can have with your children because of this shared experience. SHINE is also developing a children’s bulletin to help kids follow the service and participate in worship and to help families discuss what they’ve seen and heard together.
Will they stay the whole service?
First and foremost, every child of every age is always invited to worship with the church family, every week. Children Birth - Kindergarten will have the opportunity to go directly to SHINE on Sunday mornings before worship begins. Children in 1-2 grades will be excused sometime before the sermon each week to continue learning through choir and catechism. Children 3rd grade and up will be encouraged/asked? to stay in worship with their families.
What happens to children’s worship if they’re in worship with adults? After younger children are excused from worship, Worship Arts and SHINE Children’s ministry will lead them in choir, catechism, and bible games in the Clayton Life Center. Also, younger children will always have the option to remain in the regular worship service with their families instead of leaving the service.
When will children experience age-appropriate Bible teaching?
During 10:05am - 10:50am, SHINE and STUDENT Ministry Discipleship Classes will take place. This will be the dedicated time for discipleship for children, students and adults.
Aren’t children disruptive in worship?
You bet. Children wiggle, whisper, squawk and cry. They may wander, they may sing too loud, they may want to dance during the music, and they may want to color during the sermon. And all of that is ok. We’d rather create a warm, welcoming environment where the church family is together, being loved, than have a perfectly calm, quiet worship service. Our ultimate goal is to worship God, and Jesus modeled a life of worship that included little children.
What if the sermon isn’t kid-friendly?
Younger children will be excused before the message. If the content is of a more grown-up nature, we will make sure to let parents know the topic in the beginning of worship, in case they want to excuse their older children to choir and catechism that day. As a church, we always want to be framing our conversations around difficult topics so that our children are learning and growing in their knowledge of the world with a biblical worldview. This takes practice and we plan to walk our families through any difficult subject matter.
Are we hiring a new Genesis worship leader?
Our search team has met, and the process is well underway. We are currently looking at a number of great candidates.
How will diversity be addressed?
Diversity is important to us. While it may not be explicitly spelled out in everything you see coming, it’s certainly a common thread in our conversations and a lens through which we’re viewing this change.
Are small groups/Sunday school the answer to our connection problems? Yes and no. Those formats offer helpful models, but a church member can be in small groups or Sunday school, and still not connected to one another in terms of the larger vision and mission of the church.
In fact, the Session looked at a case study of a large Presbyterian church in California with high rates of small group participation, but cripplingly low scores of connection to the larger church’s vision and mission.
Why isn’t there more focus on world mission in the vision?
We’re going to continue to focus on mission as a church family. But just like Acts 1:8 called the early church be witnesses in Jerusalem first, we know for a season, we need to focus on our Jerusalem. The good news is, as we work to strengthen and prepare our church to live missionally in their spheres of influence, the Holy Spirit is going to speaking to our church family about the unique call he has for each one of us. The byproduct of healthy discipleship is mission, and we’re excited to see that begin to take shape within our congregation members.
We have focused deeply on world mission for the past few years, and God has used this church to build His Kingdom globally. After this season of deep investment, it is appropriate for us to put our global mission efforts in “neutral” and redirect some of those energies to help our church family “live missionally” to personally own God’s mission to the world.
How does our theology inform our new language?
The new identity language is composed of core values, strategic priorities, and a mission statement. The church has retained our statement of faith, which outlines our theology. All of the new vision language is very intentionally born out of in Scripture and was prayerfully considered. For each value, we carefully examined how God has shaped our church’s unique identity and explained God’s role as clearly as we could, and wrote it to be accessible, emotive and memorable. Our values are distinct from our statement of faith - they don’t represent our core theological beliefs - instead, they are the markers of the identity of this church.
What can I do to help?
Be champions of the new vision. First, pray. Really, do it. Second, celebrate the good God has done at First Pres over the years. Third, be ready to participate and engage.
One way would be to sign up to attend one of our upcoming Home Meetings and be a positive voice, and tell stories of how the Holy Spirit is moving among us.
Who is TAG and what did they help do?
TAG Consulting is a coaching organization based out of Virginia. The have worked with First Pres for over a year and a half, beginning with our church health assessment, the Transforming Church Insight, (also known as our Fall 2017 church-wide survey).
About the TCI/Survey
“The questions are not based on or dependent on theology, but rather measure the congregant’s personal sense of engagement with the church they attend. As of the most recent update, the TCI has 11 million records, representing churches from virtually every major denomination, as well as a cross-section of non-denominational churches, resulting in a robust database. The 135 questions in this engagement survey were designed to uncover your congregation's engagement with your church across 5 broad dimensions: Community, Code, Calling, and Change. “ - TAG Consulting
After sharing the results of the index with our staff, elders and leadership, TAG has facilitated the visioning and discernment process for both church culture and staff culture.
More on TAG Consulting
If finances and worship attendance is stable, why disrupt the status quo?
Externally, culture is changing and the church can not wait to adapt. Not only is the culture we live in changing, Orlando is changing, and rapidly. First Pres’ unique calling as a downtown church puts is right in the midst of new mission fields and communities, like the new Downtown Campus of UCF and the 68 acre Creative Village. We want to be ready to engage culture in a way that is gracious, affectionate and transformative.
Internally, just like you wouldn’t want to wait to address your health issues until you were in the emergency room, we aren’t going to wait to address our church’s health issues. Our health assessment from TAG identified some clear strengths and clear areas where growth was needed. Our leadership chose, not just to treat the “symptoms” but to address these challenges from whole-church perspective, looking at the ways we can better disciple and equip our church family to live missionally.
Isn’t this just the next big study or initiative?
No. One of the the reasons we’ve worked through all the challenges presented by a process like this (which began 18 months ago) is because we know this isn’t “the church’s big thing right now.” This is a vital conversation about the church we believe God is shaping us to become, and how we will rise to meet the challenges in our future. Our church family will continue to have opportunities to hear, learn and engage our core values, strategic priorities and mission for years to come.
Why is the church changing or eliminating ministries?
We understand it seems counterintuitive to close ministries. But as the church moves away from being a provider of religious goods and services, we need to refocus our efforts on the primary mission of the church, and that is to disciple people into the likeness of Christ.
As we make the transition from being primarily an attractional church (wherein we expect the community to come to us) to being a missional church (being sent by God out into our family, workplace and neighborhood) we have had to make difficult decisions. Understanding “Attractional vs. Missional” church.
All four of the closing ministries (The Magnolia Preschool, Musikgarten, Four12, Fitness at First) met a specific need in a specific season, and we are grateful for the ways in which God used them to serve our city.
In an effort to provide religious goods and services, our church has been operating in a deficit of relationship, ownership and understanding of the vision among our congregation. We have begun to make changes to better focus on equipping people to live missionally in their own families, workplaces and neighborhoods.
What about the affected families and staff?
Often in the church, we don’t recognize the end of a season of ministry or make an effort to close something out well. In this, we have made every effort to prepare families prior to the closing in August, and to help staff with placement.
How do I connect with other people and get to know them?
We have a team specifically focused on connections, led by Cameron Hughes. He’s available on Sunday mornings, as well as during the week at 407.423.3441 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re listening! As we’ve rolled out our core values and strategic priorities, you may have questions or feedback. We welcome you to send those our way.
We have a team dedicated to listening to your feedback and answering your questions during this season, led by Rev. Becky Davis. email@example.com or 407-423-3441.
Visit fpco.org/future for the most recent vision updates, and past letters from David, update videos.