Frequently Asked Questions
Will my worship service, class, ministry, mission project, etc. change?
Most likely. As we think about the overall vision of the church, we want to orient all ministry to that vision.
We’re not just trying to address changes to events or meetings - we’re working towards a whole culture change within our church family. Because of that, this process will take time.
Will Sunday mornings change?
Yes, Sunday morning will 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 don’t yet have times or details. We are working on those things, realizing everyone in our church family will be a part of this change.
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.
Why not just change worship times and move forward?
As we think about the things the congregation expressed as areas of improvement, (relationship, community, and our congregation really taking ownership of the vision), our growth goes far beyond simply making logistical or tactical changes. We will be thinking qualitatively about changes and finding better ways to measure success in the future.
How will different generations/people be included? What about diversity?
Diversity (generationally, ethnically, socioeconomically, married/single, etc) 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.
Our staff is currently working on a multi-year connection plan with both discipleship and relationship in mind.
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 and our personality.
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.
Who is TAG Consulting 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.
If things are good, why change?
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 another 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?
As our elders considered how we would share our strategic priorities, there were clear areas where they began to see our ministries were not aligned. 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. But in an effort to provide religious goods and services, our church began to do so at a deficit of relationship, ownership and understanding of the vision among our congregation. We have eliminated these ministries and begun to make changes to better focus on equipping people to live missionally in their own families, workplaces and neighborhoods.
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 email@example.com.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-423-3441.
Visit fpco.org/future for the most recent vision updates, and past letters from David, update videos.