Our church went through a consultation last weekend. We invited two people from our denomination to come in and look at everything: our history, our stats, and lots of other information. They also took a congregational survey and met with three focus groups, as well as with me, my wife, and the staff. They also provided training, and presented three lists: our strengths, our obstacles, and prescriptions for change.
This was scary. You could sense some of the tension as the weekend approached. It felt like we were being poked and probed. I think we also could think of all the ways this could go wrong. Many of us have been there before. I realized that this could lead to some big changes, including me moving on. Yet I really sensed we needed this process. Even more, I needed to go through this.
A process like this is only as good as the people leading it. I trusted the guys we had coming in, and my trust was well placed. They couldn’t have done a better job.
They challenged me. I had to do some repenting last weekend. They hit me pretty hard in some areas, and they were right. This is going to have to lead to some changes in what I do. Yet they did so as friends, new friends who wanted the best for me and for the mission of the church. Overall I found the process to be very affirming, despite the challenge and vulnerability of being under the microscope.
They challenged the church. Issues that had never been confronted were not only surfaced but challenged. They went for the root, rather than just whacking off the top of the weed. You can only do so much in a weekend, but what they did was more than had been done in a long time.
They highlighted strengths. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what’s wrong. This process helped us identify our strengths, of which there are many. It was nice to be encouraged in some key areas.
They also left us with a roadmap. We now have some very real steps we need to take. They aren’t just busywork. They are strategic. They are also going to provide coaching and support over the coming year.
I have never seen Richview so united around understanding our current situation and what has to change. It wasn’t an easy process or a comfortable one, but it was exactly what we needed.
I’d appreciate your prayers for the next phase. We have some initial work to do. Part of my summer is going to be taking time in my sabbatical to get some of the things I need to be ready for the next phase of ministry.
If you prayed for us last weekend, thank you so much. God definitely answered our prayers. And keep praying. We’re in for a ride, and are going to have to learn to rely on God like we never have before.