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Saturday, February 18, 2006

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

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