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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

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