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Monday, October 23, 2006

Approved Recommendation

TMBC Visioning Task Force
Recommendation to Coordinating Council
September 2006

A significant fact drawn from our analysis of church data --- both from TMBC and from other Pitt County Baptist churches --- is that the number of worship attendance guests visiting churches from their own initiative has been declining since around 2002. This reduction in guests has occurred despite a net in-migration of people and the implementation of alternative worship services by several churches. Hispanics and Catholics from northeastern states account for part of the net in-migration, but not all. Regardless of cause, however, in order to remain relevant, increasingly meaningful relationships will have to be formed with in-migrants and others before they become worship attendance guests. Since this reverses the historical pattern of church relationship building, specific mechanisms need to be implemented to cause the pattern to reverse.

Recommendation: That TMBC conceive and prosecute a variety of opportunities for members to develop relationships with persons who have yet to be worship attendance guests. Many of the relationships may not convert to worship attendance guests, but a relationship that reflects God’s Kingdom is sufficient. The variety of opportunities should include all current, active TMBC persons of all ages. That is, we should devise multiple ways for new relationships to evolve. It is expected that from this new relationship supply a guest pool adequate to sustain TMBC’s relevancy will emerge.

Potential: Bases from which new relationships might spawn include:

Better health (See below.)

Recent arrivals
Places of employment
Civic, fraternal, and social organizations
Recent TMBC folk paired with former active TMBC folk
TMBC web presence

Management: (See below.)

Something for everybody:
Almost every living person has some opportunity to get some better at some aspect of health. Nearly every person has some capacity to progress to a better state of health. The key ingredient in embarking on a journey of “getting better” is to want to get better. With that simple goal, wanting to get better, almost everybody can improve.

TMBC Better Health volunteers can facilitate almost everybody wanting to get better by exhibiting that they care about individuals personally. They can exhibit caring by attending information meetings, pairing with individuals in physical and dietary modifications of daily living patterns, and being open to developing relationships with diverse persons.

Everybody can improve:
Many persons fail to get better because they have resigned to the notions that they can’t or that the process is too difficult. Once they experience they can improve, wanting to get better is almost automatic. Thus a key factor is enabling folks to experience improvement even if they have yet to decide they want to improve.

Enjoy the journey: Many perceive physical activity and diet modification as negatives. A factor in their perception is unrealistic expectations. That is, they assume dramatic change should be observable within several weeks or months. Generally, pattern changes (diet or exercise) that can achieve dramatic changes in short time periods are so extreme that they are not enjoyable. However, enjoyable (less extreme) pattern changes can be achieved and sustained over time. A key factor in enjoying the journey is to establish realistic improvement goals.

Establish what is: In order to measure change, a base needs to be established at the outset as to what the key health measurement factors are. Generally these include (all fasting):

Blood sugar
Blood pressure
Cholesterol (HDLs, LDLs, and a key ratio)
Heart rate (resting; moderate exercise; maximum exercise)
Percentage body fat to total weight

Ascertain how to improve: After a participant determines his/her current state for the measurement factors, then he/she establishes a plan for improvement. There can be differences in plans due to various limiting factors, but there can be a rational plan for everyone.

Discovering enjoyment: The old saying, different strokes for different folks, applies as it relates to both choice of exercise(s) and diet modification. But there are enough choices available to find a balance that is enjoyable. In a sneaky -- bordering on subversive -- way finding balance is the centric key. Thus, our group discovery process will demonstrate how to find balance.

Recognize improvement: There will not be much emphasis on concepts such as losing pounds, although a natural consequence of better fitness is a better ratio of body fat to total weight. Instead, improvement will be measured by better cardio-vascular fitness and the consequential improvements in the health measurement keys.

Enjoy the plateaus: Sometimes people consider encountering plateaus as a negative. During any improvement journey there will be plateaus --- periods of time, after notable improvement, in which very little improvement is noted. Each spurt of improvement will likely be followed by a longer plateau, but each succeeding plateau will be higher than before. Masters (of anything and everything) practice with enthusiasm even while in a plateau. Thus, the key is to embrace the process as “practice.” These plateaus are ideal times to connect our earth-bound lives with the holy and eternal and can facilitate a blissful sense of well-being with each practice (diet or exercise.) The result is a continuum toward a highly satisfying place.

Facilitating facilities: Many people enjoy walking outside.. However, there are not enough “walking trails” conveniently located to enough people. A walking trail around the perimeter of TMBC’s property would be in close proximity to a number of people. Over the years we TMBC folks have wondered how we might be better neighbors to our neighbors. Making our property available as a walking trail has potential for multiple positive experiences.

Folks of all types will be recruited to attend indoctrination/introductory meetings. Several meeting sessions will be devoted to teaching various avenues of achieving better health (activities and diet modifications). At a juncture, folks will choose from various types of activities (walking, running, swimming, or other aerobic activities) to begin being more physically active. There will be a monitoring process so that improvement over time can be measured. Periodically the smaller activity groups will re-convene into the larger group for feedback and possible modifications of regimens. There will be a continuum of new groups embarking even as earlier groups continue to progress.


Health professionals who are TMBC members
Pitt County Memorial Hospital employee volunteers
ECU health professionals volunteers
Various materials to support individuals and groups

TMBC Visioning Task Force
Management of Recommendation to Coordinating Council
September 2006

As a deliberative series of processes are contemplated that will foster the development of new relationships, a way of visually displaying “who TMBC is now” and “TMBC’s developing relationships” would help members understand. In addition to assisting members to grasp the significance of the contemplated pattern shift, this visual will also provide the basis to measure effectiveness. Understanding is important as the pattern shift depends on a broad number of people embarking on new journeys. There will be an embedded reluctance to embark on new journeys without a clear understanding of the need and the potential consequence. Effective new journeys depend upon such a clear discernment. Since a variety of new processes are contemplated, it is not likely that they all will be successful or equally successful. Thus, a method of measuring effectiveness needs to be developed at the outset. Each of these is based on technical facts and numbers that do not necessarily convey understanding in their basic raw form. Capturing the meaning of this data visually will contribute to the success of the processes.

Illustration: During the Focus on Tomorrow initiative of 2002/2003, a visual of Pitt County with a diamond overlay became the basis for conveying various kinds of information, such as geographical locations of Pitt County Baptist Churches and some historical demographics on each church. The same visual was also used to convey the consequence of the currently planned SW Bypass and, perhaps more importantly, the ultimate circle encompassing Greenville, Winterville, Ayden, and Simpson. The same visual was used to demonstrate location trends in new residential construction.

A similar visual will be developed that relates TMBC, as it is now, to Pitt County geography and in parallel shows the individual causative activity generating newly developed relationships. The more causative activities (such as the Better Health initiative) that are developed, the more new relationships can be expected.

Since the visual will be continually changing, most likely it will be developed so that it can be projected frequently, such as during pre-worship on Sunday morning and during mealtime on Wednesday and posted on the TMBC website and included in routine printed mailings.

Observation: Since this is a conceptual description of a creative process that has yet to occur, the ultimate management tool(s) may vary from the description.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

TMBC Demography

The above chart, when looked at with some awareness of the next two and other data encountered, is very meaningful. It reflects the percentage of the average worship attendance to the reported Resident Membership of each church. Oakmont, the only church of the 5 to experience growth over last 4 years, has the largest percentage by a sizable margin, though their percentage seems to be moderating. The substantive meaning of the percentage is NOT that Oakmont has a higher percentage of members attending, BUT they have more guests attending. It is from attending guests that growth occurs. The chart suggests Arlington currently attracts few guests. The other 3 churches and the combined total are clustered ina declining trend, which is consistent with their reported lack of growth.

This chart shows the reported numbers for the 5 churches as of the the 2005 reporting date. In addition it shows the total for the combined 5 churches. This total is more important than any of the individual churches.

This chart shows the number of Resident Members for each of the 5 Greenville Baptist churches over a span of 29 years. Notice the number for TMBC on this chart is greater than we have reported elsewhere. That is to make the TMBC number more comparable to the data available from the other churches. Comparatively we can see one indicator of the relative size of the 5 churches.

The above graphics correctly reflect "Net New Members" and "Gross New Members Over 18" for the years 2000 - 2005. Visually, however, the Net New Members chart conveys a decline over the five years since 2000. When new members under 18 are eliminated and the metric is Gross New Members a different visual picture (and functionally more correct) is shown. Essentially we had modest, but consistent, increase in adult new members for 2000, 2001, and 2002, followed by a decrease in 2003, 2004, 2005.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Covenant Conversations

First, allow me to express my appreciation for the opportunity to join a community of people who are passionate about God's vision for the church.

Since this is my first post, I wanted to offer something that might create some reflection and dialogue. Immediately, I thought about an item I shared with Northwest Baptist Church two years ago as we began considering the journey of discerning God's vision for the church. This item created a great deal of conversation which helped to clarify the type of journey we were being called to embark on as a congregation. I encourage you to take time to read and reflect, and then offer your response(s). I look forward to the discussion.

Covenant of Openness to Visions
from Thomas G. Bandy, Moving Off the Map: A Field Guide to Changing the Congregation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998), 185.
We promise to help create a climate of openness to receive the visions God would reveal to us, from _________ to ________ (dates).
1. We declare our readiness to "Let Go." We are ready to risk our heritage, our tradition, and our survival in order to discern the new directions in which God would lead us.
2. We declare our readiness to "Let God." We are ready to be surprised or dismayed, challenged or judged, changed to new ways or confirmed in ancient ways in any way God addresses us.
3. We declare our readiness to consider all options. We are ready to consider any change or sacrifice, any opportunity or cost - even the amalgamation, relocation, or closure of our congregation, for the sake of our walk with Jesus.
4. We declare our readiness to focus on priorities. We are ready to entrust the relative trivialities of insitutional management to a gifted few and to concentrate our energies on what is truly important about our future and our faith.
5. We declare our readiness to share all ministries. We are ready to free our clergy and equip our laity to share equal responsibility for ministry so that all may have time to deepen spirituality and listen for the callings of God.
6. We declare our readiness to stretch our imaginations. We are ready to listen to crazy ideas, consider the impossible, taste the distasteful, converse with strangers, and experiment with the nontraditional so that God can help us to grow and change.
7. We declare our readiness to laugh. We are ready to tolerate odd personalities, go to extreme diplomacy, and offer the maximum generosity. We are prepared to laugh at ourselves and laugh with each other. We are eager to try, fail, learn, and try again.
{DISCLAIMER: Please do not conclude that by my posting this item that I agree with it wholeheartedly. You will discover my thoughts as we dialogue. I post it simply because it should create reflection and dialogue.}

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Questions and Statements Relevant To Vision

This post will be an evolving list of good questions to ask of a church engaged in a visioning process. The first six, which have been previously shared with the Visioning Task Force, are from Reggie McNeal's DVD companion to his book "The Present Future":
  • How do we de-convert "churchianity" into Christianity?
  • How do we transform our community?
  • How do we transform members into missionaries?
  • How do we develop followers of Jesus?
  • How do we prepare for the future?
  • How do we develop leaders?
This question evolved from our group "life cycle" exercise on March 19, 2006:

Does our individual perception of TMBC limit our perception of the collective congregation?

The inspiration for that question was the more invigerated viewpoint of the youngest person and newest TMBC member participating in the exercise. Almost everything she had encountered was positive; whereas longer term members could recall higher peaks.

It will also contain a list of good statements regarding visioning and change. The first thirteen are from Brian McLaren's "The Church on the Other Side" (formerly called "Reinventing Your Church"):

Introductory statement: If you have a new world, you need a new church. You have a new world.

  • Distinguish between renewed, restored, and reinvented churches, and focus on the last.
  • Clarify and simplify to "more Christians, better Christians" in authentic missional community, for the good of the world.
  • See the church program in terms of interrelated systems rather than quick fixes.
  • Distinguish between church traditions and the Christian Tradition, and move emphasis from the former to the latter.
  • Stop thinking of theology as a matter of technical training, in which answers are already known, and rejuvenate theology through a quest for truth and beauty.
  • Find fresh ways to communicate the gospel to the postmodern mind.
  • Realize that old communication patterns are less and less effective in the new world, and discover new, appropriate modes of discourse.
  • Adopt a new paradigm for church structure that allows for routine reengineering based on changes in size, constituency, resources, and strategy.
  • Rocgnize the terrible toll that the transition time is taking on leaders; recognize their immense value to the church at this time; help them to be "saved" for their needed work.
  • Understand the crisis in world missions, and help launch a new missionary movement.
  • Anchor your hope in the future rather than the past, and explore a new eschatology.
  • Understand postmodernism, and learn to see it from the inside.
  • Engage postmodernism, and maximize the opportunities it presents.
  • Prepare to de-bug your faith from the viruses of modernity.
  • Help your church become a learning organization that discovers and implements its own new strategies.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Health, United States, 2005

List of Chartbook Figures
1. Total population and older population: United States, 1950–2050

2. Percent of population in five age groups: United States, 1950, 2004, and 2050

3. Percent of population in selected race and Hispanic origin groups by age: United States, 1980–2004

4. Poverty by age: United States, 1966–2003

5. Low income by age, race and Hispanic origin: United States, 2003

Health Insurance and Expenditures
6. Health insurance coverage among persons under 65 years of age: United States, 1984–2003

7. No health insurance coverage among persons under 65 years of age by selected characteristics: United States, 2003

8. National health expenditures as a percent of Gross Domestic Product: United States, 1960–2003

9. Personal health care expenditures according to source of funds and type of expenditures: United States, 2003

Health Risk Factors
10. Cigarette smoking among men, women, high school students, and mothers during pregnancy: United States, 1965–2003

11. Current and frequent cigarette smoking among high school students by sex, race and Hispanic origin, and grade level: United States, 2003

12. Seatbelt use and drinking and driving among high school students by sex: United States, 1991–2003

13. High school students engaging in regular physical activity by sex, race and Hispanic origin, and grade: United States, 2003

14. Leisure-time physical activity among adults 18 years of age and over by poverty status: United States, 2003

15. Overweight and obesity by age: United States, 1960–2002

Morbidity and Limitation of Activity
16. Asthma attack among children by age, race and Hispanic origin: United States, 1998–2003

17. Adults 18 years of age and over with severe headache or migraine or low back pain in the past 3 months by age and sex: United States, 2003

18. Selected chronic health conditions causing limitation of activity among children by age: United States, 2002–03

19. Selected chronic health conditions causing limitation of activity among working-age adults by age: United States, 2002–03

20. Selected chronic health conditions causing limitation of activity among older adults by age: United States, 2002–03

Health Care Utilization
21. Use of mammography within the past 2 years for women 40 years of age and over by race and Hispanic origin: United States, 1987–2003

22. Use of Pap smear within the past 3 years for women 18 years of age and over by race and Hispanic origin: United States, 1987–2003

23. Injury-related visits to hospital emergency departments in children under 20 years of age by first-listed external cause and age: United States,
average annual 2000–2003

24. Visits to physician offices and hospital outpatient departments by sex and age: United States, 1996–2003

25. Hospital inpatient procedures for insertion of coronary artery stent(s) among adults 45 years of age and over by age: United States, 1996–2003

26. Life expectancy at birth and at 65 years of age by sex: United States, 1900–1902 through 2002

27. Infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates: United States, 1950–2002

28. Infant mortality rates by detailed race and Hispanic origin of mother: United States, 2000–2002

29. Death rates for leading causes of death for all ages: United States, 1950–2002

Special Feature: Adults 55–64 Years of Age
30. Aging of the population 45 years of age and over: United States, 2004, 2014, and 2024

31. Employment status among adults 55-64 years of age by sex, race and Hispanic origin: United States, 2002–03

32. Low income among adults 55–64 years of age by sex, race and Hispanic origin: United States, 2003

33. Health insurance coverage among adults 55–64 years of age by marital status: United States, 2002–03

34. Cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol) among adults 55–64 years of age: United States, 1988–94 and 1999–2002

35. Visits to health professionals in the past 12 months among adults 55–64 years of age by health insurance status: United States, 2002–03

36. Blood glucose regulators and cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed during medical visits among adults 55–64 years of age by sex: United States, 1995–96 and 2002–03

37. Total prescribed medicine expense per person per year among adults 55–64 years of age by source of payment and sex: United States, 1997 and 2002.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Four Centric Themes

By C. Eugene Prescott, Chair
Church and Community Data Team of
Focus on Tomorrow Team
March 29, 2003

Pitt County Christian adherents, in spite of strong growth by the Catholic Church, are a declining percentage of a rapidly growing Pitt County population.

There are at least three identified segments of the population being underserved: Hispanic/Latinos, never-churched adults, and people more similar than different from most current Christian adherents. Multiple strategies are necessary to stop the decline. Concepts to consider include establishing relationships with Hispanics where they are predominantly located, establishing relationships with never-churched adults in unconventional settings, and acquiring strategically located land to accommodate growth within traditional church settings. See footnotes 1, 2, 3, 5 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, and 22 following.

Successful churches have a balanced, multi-faceted, forward-looking focus.

There is a perpetual dynamic between Vision, Relationships, Programs, and Management. Vision and Relationships are more important than Programs and Management, yet Management and Programs often dominate thinking and resources. TMBC’s ability to successfully rebalance within all encountered circumstances is why Pitt County’s oldest Baptist church is, also, one of the strongest after 177 years. Adequate attention on new program emphases (such as those indicated in prior meetings, the recent survey, and the March 21, 2003 planning summit) is a consequence of adequate Vision and strong Relationships. Successful churches also attract enough new worshipers to at least offset attrition. Generally, these church’s adherents also have a sense of belonging and a sense of caring for children and youth. See footnotes 4, 11, 20, 24, 26, and 27 following.

Less successful churches have identifiable strengths.

Beyond the Ordinary: Ten Strengths of U. S. Congregations (2004) is based on a survey of 300,000 worshipers in 2,000 congregations. A number of myths regarding church life are debunked. More importantly, patterns of significant areas of strength are identified in most churches. Generally, churches in the top 20% in Growing Spiritually and Looking to the Future are in the top 20% in 7 of 10 identified areas of strength. While only 6% of the churches had that level of strength in 7 categories, 67% had strength in at least one and 40% had two. Perhaps some churches should consider training as tri-athletes do; that is, intentionally focusing on a less competent area in order to become more balanced, while others should hone their strengths. Knowing which church should do what is important. See footnote 4 following.

Networking and partnering on wide ranging emphases will increase.

This is not your father’s network (generally formal conventions and associations.) These are focused networks of partners (churches and individuals) with specific passions working collaboratively for the greater Kingdom (not necessarily just the Baptist version of the Kingdom.) For instance TMBC might network with a small rural Pitt County church in creating opportunities for Hispanics, with a potential consequence of facilitating the smaller church in Looking to the Future. Some of our members might work with some Oakmont members in fostering personal relationships with folks unlikely to ever attend a traditional worship service in an existing facility. TMBC might facilitate the acquisition of strategic land that is funded by any number of churches and individuals. Such relationships with other entities will encourage constant rebalancing. See footnotes 4 and 28 following.

179 (in 2005) and Still Fit

Four Centric Themes
By C. Eugene Prescott, Chair
Church and Community Data Team of
Focus on Tomorrow Team
March 21, 2003

1. The National Congregation Study (1998)
2. How Much Should We Pay the Pastor, Pulpit and Pew (2003)
3. Glenmary Research Center, Association of Statisticians, American Religious Bodies (2000)
4. Beyond the Ordinary: 10 Strengths of U. S. Congregations (2004)
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Website (2004)
6. US Census Bureau Website (2004)
7. A Journey of Faith (2002)
8. Pitt County Comprehensive Land Use Plan (2002)
9. Long Range Education Plan (2003)
10. South Roanoke Baptist Association Membership Data (2002)
11. TMBC Total Member Growth 1827-2001 - graph
12. Pitt County Population 1980-2020 – graph
13. Thirteen Pitt County Baptist Churches – graphs
14. Resident Members 5 Pitt County Churches 20 Years Ending 2001 – graph
15. Updated to 2002 – graph
16. Pitt County Map - 13 churches; beltline; diamond focus area
17. Pitt County Flood Plain Map
18. South Central HS School District Map
19. TIP Priorities 2002-2008 - graph
20. Historical Pattern of Major Events TMBC - graph
21. Pitt County 2000 Adherents - graph
22. Shrinking Pie Slice for Adherents – graph
23. TMBC Resident Members 1999 – 2003
24. TMBC Summary Table of Data – Contributors and Contributions
25. Life Cycle and Stages of Organizational Development - chart
26. If Church Were a Vehicle – keyed to Life Cycle chart
27. Understanding the Transbecosm – a concept of transcendence, transformation, being, becoming in an ever continuum process
28. Proposed (Sample) Statement of Purpose and Guidelines for New Church Starts facilitated by a network

Demography on Aging

When you reach Don Bradley's site (Ph.D., Department of Sociology, East Carolina University) by clicking on the title above, then click on:

Demography on Aging Presentation

Those on dial-up connections be patient as the file loads. The setup works best if opened with Internet Explorer (which is likely the default browser for most of you.)

Focus on Tomorrow Planning Report

The Memorial Baptist Church

The Bible makes it clear that God is a planner. Ephesians 1:8-10 states that God had a plan for “the fullness of time” that culminated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s plan is being worked out through God’s people. As the Lord proclaimed through Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future” (29:11). Believing that God has plans for the redemption of all of creation, and that our congregation has a specific role in fulfilling that plan, we commit ourselves to a Focus on Tomorrow that involves several key components.

Our Mission

(Based on Mark 12:30-31 and Matthew 28:18-20)
Loving God and our neighbors from Greenville to the ends of the earth

Our Core Ministry Purposes

Under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and in accordance with the authority of Scripture, we the believers called out to be ministers in The Memorial Baptist Church, affirm the following core ministry purposes (references from Acts 2):

Life-Sharing Fellowship (1, 42, 44, 46)
Outreach Mission to Unsaved/churched (5ff., 40-42, 47)
Vital Congregational Worship (40-42, 44-47)
Intentional Disciple-Making (17-18, 46-47)
Needs-Focused Missions and Ministry (6, 9-11, 39, 45)
Gifts-Based Stewardship (1-12, 44-45)

Our Focus on Tomorrow Plan

This is not a traditional plan with objectives, goals and action and implementation strategies. Instead, it identifies areas of “specific focus” which will receive significant time, effort, attention and resources by the congregation during the next period of expansion. These specific focus areas are not listed in any intended order of priority, nor are they to be considered initiatives to be pursued to the detriment or exclusion of existing TMBC ministries (for example: Sunday School, youth programs, and current community ministries). Though the specific focus areas are few in number, we pray that they will act like a small rudder on a large ship, influencing all of our ministries and steering us into the mission-focused future God has planned for us.

Community Outreach Focus:
Background: Surveys and discussions within the TMBC congregation indicated that there is an extremely high level of interest in and commitment to strengthening and expanding ministries to the needy in our community. We already have a number of successful community ministries, such as the food pantry and ramp building, but there are many more needs and our people have many more abilities and desires to meet those needs.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “Community Outreach Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. They would conduct research on community needs, existing community ministries with whom we might develop partnerships, and existing TMBC community ministries, and facilitate the strengthening of existing ministries and the initiation of new ministries to our community. Above all, they would seek to involve a broad range of TMBC participants in utilizing their gifts to reach out to our community with mission action.

Family Life Ministries Focus:
Background: The family is the basic building block of society, and was established by God at the dawn of creation. The family precedes all other institutions, even the church. Yet, the state of marriage and family life is under assault today. The church is called to do all it can to strengthen marriages and families in these challenging times. Surveys of our congregation indicate a strong interest in strengthening our ministries with families and making this a major focus. One possible tool to facilitate ministry with families, the congregation and the community is a multipurpose facility.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “Family Life Ministries Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. The first priority of this task force would be to initiate ministries designed to strengthen families in our congregation and community. A secondary responsibility of this task force would be to research the need for a multipurpose facility, to be located either on our current property or in another location. Such a facility should not only support family ministries, but also potentially impact other ministries, such as community outreach or new church development, and therefore would require cooperation with other strategic focus task forces.

Hands On Global Missions Focus:
Background: A very exciting development in recent years has been the involvement of “ordinary” Christians in short-term mission projects far from their home, including other countries. This movement is gaining much momentum in TMBC, especially with the two recent mission trips to Honduras. Such trips not only help the people in the mission areas, but they also foster the spiritual growth of the participants. More opportunities for these kinds of experiences exist, and more persons wish to be involved, but most do not know how to get involved and may not have the resources required.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “Global Mission Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. This task force would discover and publicize mission opportunities, form mission teams, and help raise resources to support mission trip participants.

Multicultural Ministry Focus:
Background: Our nation in general, and our community in particular, are changing. We are a nation of immigrants, and new immigrants are moving in every day. ECU, the medical center, industry and agriculture all bring in new populations representing diverse ethnicities and cultures. Our church has sponsored a Chinese ministry for several years. Our recent research indicates that the Hispanic population of Pitt County is growing at a rapid pace, but there are few Protestant ministries to Hispanics currently in existence.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “Multicultural Ministry Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. They would conduct more research on current multicultural ministries in our community and would lead our congregation to strengthen current ministries (e.g. Chinese) or initiate new ministries (e.g. Hispanic). They would seek not only to involve our congregation, but to network and partner with other churches and ministries to expand Kingdom work with our neighbors coming from other cultures.

New Church Development Focus:
Background: The population of Pitt County is growing at a significant pace. The churches in Pitt County, collectively, are not. In general, new churches are more successful in reaching unchurched and never-churched persons than are churches who have been in existence for a long time. The last successful new Baptist congregation was developed forty years ago. There are no Baptist churches located in the area of Pitt County that is projected to have the greatest growth rate in the next twenty-five years. TMBC has been a leader in starting new churches throughout our history. However, any new church developments in the future will probably have to involve the collaboration of several congregations, because the resource requirements are so great in our time.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “New Church Development Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. This task force would take existing research, perform any necessary new research, and seek to network and partner with other individuals, congregations and groups to develop one or more new congregations in the coming years. Possibilities include, but are not limited to: a new conventional church in the unchurched but growing portion of our county; an unconventional “church” whose express purpose is to reach the growing pre-Christian, never-churched population; and, in cooperation with the Multicultural Ministry Task Force, a congregation targeting a different ethno-cultural group.

Weekday Early Education Ministries Focus:
Background: Twenty-five years ago, through the vision of a dedicated few, a preschool ministry was started at TMBC that has grown into one of the largest Weekday Early Education ministries in the state. However, significant “gaps” still exist in this strong and growing ministry, including but not limited to: families who need or desire a program for a longer portion of the day; the assimilation of unchurched WEE families into the broader life of the congregation; funding issues in general, especially tuition assistance for those who can’t afford to enroll their child.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “WEE Ministry Expansion Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. This task force would identify needs and propose solutions to strengthen and expand ministries associated with WEE.

Worship Focus:
Background: Although most TMBC participants indicate that worship is a major strength of our congregation, our worship attendance has plateaued. Worship attendance impact two other major components of congregation life: Sunday School participation and financial stewardship. Church growth experts observe that most churches cannot sustain a worship attendance level that is more than 60-80% of the capacity of the worship space. Our sanctuary’s effective capacity is 450, with a “comfortably full” (60-80%) capacity of 270-360. Our current average worship attendance is at the top of this range. Also, surveys of the congregation indicate an interest in our church providing additional worship options, with different styles and/or at different times.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the formation of a “Worship Expansion Task Force.” This task force would consist of anyone interested in this area of ministry. This task force would discover the felt needs of both existing worshippers and unchurched persons within our community and develop new worship options designed to meet those needs and reach more persons.

Enabling Focus:
Background: This plan contains directional foci that do not have an exact "shelf life." For instance, we have already been involved in Weekday Early Education Ministries for over 25 years. The point is not so much how we do the program called WEE as it is to be intentional regarding ministering to children. Many specific initiatives will take place within the Focus on Community Outreach and Family Life Ministries, some within Multicultural Ministry, some within New Church Development. We plan to be intentional in our involvement in these areas. Taken together, this plan is a pathway toward Kingdom Expansion in Pitt County. It will take a strong, committed congregation to facilitate that happening. There are very few existing congregations that can take such a leadership role in Kingdom Expansion in Pitt County. We are one. It is appropriate that the mother church of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina consciously decides to organize itself in a manner that enables Kingdom Expansion in Pitt County.

Recommendation: That the congregation authorize the establishment of a designated fund at TMBC with the purpose of facilitating projects that provide increased opportunities for knowing and worshipping Christ. The fund shall be called the "Kingdom Expansion Fund." Each project's management may vary but will be established at each project's approval. At least one person from current Stewardship will become a member of each project management team.


Recommendation: That the Focus on Tomorrow Team, serving under the authority of the Church Council, be charged with the responsibility of forming the task forces/ministry teams associated with this plan, and that periodic reports be given by the task forces/ministry teams to the Church Council and Church Conference regarding the composition and progress of the various task forces/teams.

Our Assumptions

This plan is based on a number of key assumptions:

• Our congregation first acknowledges the Lord, our God as the author of our future-directed vision.
• Our congregation seeks to reach beyond the ordinary and requires the integration of three qualities—mind, heart, and courage.
• Our congregation endeavors to be faithful to Christ’s Great Commission to reach others with the Good News of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.
• Our congregation seeks to be open to new possibilities, to thrive on empowering and inspiring leadership in all areas of congregational life, and to reach a consensus about our identity as future-directed.
• Our congregation has a history of being mission-oriented, having been birthed as a “missionary Baptist church,” having taken a leading role in the formation of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and served as the “mother church” to other missionary Baptist congregations in our area. We seek to continue this tradition.
• Our congregation has many strengths, but we realize that we can only accomplish our God-directed mission as we network and partner with other individuals, congregations and organizations.
• Our congregation is engaged in many significant ministries that continue day-to-day and week-to-week. This plan does not address those important ministries, but provides strategic focus to mission initiatives that will impact the expansion of God’s kingdom “from Greenville to the ends of the earth.”
• New ministries can, in most cases, be facilitated by passionate individuals and teams or task forces whose energies are devoted to those new ministries, rather than existing committees, councils or groups.
• Healthy congregations maintain a balance between vision, relationships, programs and management.

Our Process

The Focus on Tomorrow planning process began in the fall of 2002, when the Church Council saw that the goals of the existing strategic plan, Building Our Ministry, would be completed in 2003. The Council enlisted a fifteen member team to lead a new planning process, which became known as Focus on Tomorrow. In January 2003, the team held numerous “Hear God Through the People” meetings with the purpose of soliciting input from the congregation regarding perceived strengths, weaknesses, needs, concerns, hopes and dreams. Throughout the spring and summer of 2003, a Church and Community Data subgroup performed extensive research regarding the growth of our congregation, other congregations in Pitt County (Baptist and others) and the surrounding community. This information was shared with adult Sunday School classes and leaders representing three other congregations and the South Roanoke Association. In the fall, two staff-related recommendations were presented to the Church Conference and were adopted by the congregation. Also, a survey was administered to the congregation based on all the data that had been received so far. In March 2004, a planning summit with sixty-five persons was held to sift through the data and determine the key objectives which are represented in this plan. In April, a preliminary report was distributed to the congregation and discussed at the quarterly church conference on April 28.

Our Identity

We, The Memorial Baptist Church, are a growing fellowship of believers, saved by grace through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and committed to glorify our God.

Our Responsibilities as Members

As a church body in Christ, we exist and act in fellowship by the bonds and rules of the Gospel. The congregation participates by being present and involved in stewardship of time and money, worship and Bible study, and congregational meetings. We covenant together:

• To walk together in Christian love
• To remember each other in prayer
• To walk circumspectly in the world
• To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort
• To promote its prosperity and spirituality

The Focus on Tomorrow Team

Amanda Anderson, Glenn Bowman, Debra Bradshaw, Larry Davidson, Larry Dendy (chair), Carl Grantham, Jim Hopf, Larry Hovis, Karen Klaich, Carroll McLawhorn, Wesley Mincey, Collice Moore, Jr., Patrick Moye, Marcia Pleasants, Gene Prescott