Moving Forward: Reflections on the Parish Forum

September 26, 2017 | by: Wes Gristy | 0 comments

Posted in: News

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If you happened to miss our Parish Forum on Wednesday, August 23, allow me to recap for you the high points of what was shared and discussed. The purpose of this forum was threefold: to inform the parish of the process by which we as a Vestry are moving forward in stewarding our growth; to call the church to make this pivotal season we share a matter of prayer; and to solicit the wisdom of the parish about the process and our priorities.

WHERE WE'VE BEEN—The Last Two Years

Two years ago, All Saints’ growth caused us to experience some space constraints, especially during our Sunday worship. Before any decision was made about how to respond to these increasing growth constraints, the Vestry in conversation with the parish took time to rearticulate and reconnect with our Mission and Personality.

Over time this conversation developed into a tool designed to help us remain committed to those core characteristics God has used to make All Saints what it is. These are the essentials we must hold on to during the inevitable change that occurs in any growing church. We cannot overemphasize how important this tool has become for the Vestry; it drives all of our questions, conversations, and decisions. You’ve seen it before, but it’s always worth revisiting again:

MISSION: to be a community that shares in the life of God for the life of the world

PERSONALITY: those characteristics to which we hope to stay alive

  • Spiritual Formation in the Anglican Way
  • Healing Hospitality
  • The Church as Family
  • A Heart for Service
  • Financially Generous and Responsible

WHERE WE ARE—Facts on the Ground

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We continue to experience a steady annual growth rate of around 20%, which means we’re once again feeling the space constraints of our current facilities. We are already spilling out of our office space, overflowing our nursery, children spaces, and lacking adequate spaces for fellowship and learning activities. Furthermore, based on our current trends, in two years our nave will no longer be able to accommodate us even with both services (see the infographic on the right).

On top of this, a structural engineer confirmed that our current building is not only poorly constructed, but also has a limited lifespan. It is not financially wise to either renovate or plan to utilize for the long term.

WHERE WE'RE GOING—Decisions for Moving Forward

Considering what God has done to bring us here, and the realities of our current situation, the Vestry has made two initial decisions: one is to develop our current property, and the other is to begin actively exploring and pursuing church planting.

There are no specific plans yet as to what either decision will look like in the immediate future. Instead, the Vestry has produced a list of guiding questions that will assist us in making those more specific decisions as things progress—questions that are deeply rooted in those very elements of our Mission and Personality that you helped to generate (if you’d like a copy of these questions, please contact the church office).

Some of these questions, in fact, helped the Vestry to determine to move forward on both of these decisions at the same time. For example, the Vestry has been asking:

  • As we develop our property, how do we avoid the all-too-common temptation and danger to neglect the mission of the church for the sake of “a bigger building”? How do we keep from becoming insular and inward focused? Is a bigger building the best way to be good stewards of church growth?
  • How can we develop our property in such a way that keeps All Saints from becoming too big for family-like commitments and healing relationships of hospitality, while still encouraging the growth of the Church? If a megachurch does not match the Mission and Personality of All Saints, how might we move forward faithfully if God continues to bless us with growth?

Questions like these have not only encouraged the Vestry to commit to intensify our efforts to be a church “for the life of the world,” but have also led us to decide that actively exploring and pursuing church planting—even as we develop our property—is the best way to move forward faithfully! Such an initiative will not only keep our eyes on the horizon of the world, but will also ensure that we will always be a church-planting church. We can honor both our “church as family” personality trait as well as our mission to be “for the life of the world” in ways that see continued additions to the family of God.

WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER

So this is where the Vestry currently stands in the decision-making process, and we share great excitement and anticipation of where God has called this family to go together.

Once again, there are no specific plans or strategies for what property development or church planting will look like as of yet. We only know we are committed to moving forward on both decisions at the same time. We believe that such a venture will only continue to breathe fresh life into our parish family, pushing us to step out of the boat of our comfort zone and into the waters of the unknown where God will surely surprise us once again with another miracle in a string of miracles that make up the story of All Saints.

We hope you will be in constant prayer for our parish during this season. We also ask that you share any wisdom or insight you have about this process with any of the Clergy or Vestry. What do you see? What are we missing? What other questions should we be asking? Does the process by which we’re moving forward resonate with what you’ve seen God doing at All Saints? We know the Spirit of God is among the people of God, and so we eagerly want to move forward together.

 

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