Strategic Envisioning Kick Off

After much prayer and careful consideration, in September 2009 the elders of Greenville Oaks kicked off a strategic envisioning effort. Following is a transcript of the message I shared on Sunday, August 30, 2009 announcing this effort.

In a couple of minutes I’m going to ask John Mabry (Greg Coffman in 2nd service) to lead another prayer for God to bless an effort that will be vitally important to the future of our church family.

But, first let me tell you a little bit about it.

God is at work in this church family. He is doing many great things and is building a wonderfully loving church. Back in 1986 he took the vision of a hand full of families and began to grow, develop and revise it into a church that is now made up of about 400 families. And one that had almost 1,000 people gathered here last Sunday in Worship.

As your elders, we see God building Greenville Oaks into an amazingly powerful force for His Kingdom, one with tremendous potential for good.

Your elders also realize that we need to take a more proactive role in leading our church family to fulfill God’s mission. God has gathered and organized us all here for a reason. Our mission, “to seek those who need Christ and help them become his fully devoted followers” isn’t just a bunch of nice sounding words we can put on a banner. We are to demonstrate God’s love for all people in such a way that more of them are drawn to recognize and accept that they need Jesus in their lives and that a life spent in his devoted service is the greatest life possible.

We need to find our own authentic ways of moving these words off the wall and into an active force that empowers and drives everything we are and do. 

To find these ways, we are going to have to do some hard work. Beginning in September, we are going to work through a visioning and strategic planning process. We are forming a team that we’re calling a Strategic Leadership Team to participate in this effort. This team will study and carefully evaluate our core values and mission and then formulate a long-range vision and high-level strategy for how we will much more effectively accomplish God’s mission for Greenville Oaks.

This team will be a group of about 30 men and women. It will include elders, ministers and other key leaders from all across our congregation. They will meet the second Friday evening and Saturday morning of the month from September through March.

Your elders fully recognize that we are embarking on some challenging work that will not be easy. Since we are not currently reaching very many people who don’t already know Jesus, it may be fairly difficult to figure out how to really start doing that. I’m sure it will require some kind of change in what we are currently doing, which isn’t always easy to do. But at the same time, we couldn’t be more excited about how God is preparing Greenville Oaks to be a mature and powerful beacon of hope to our community and beyond.

When I said strategic planning, some of you may have immediately thought of laborious efforts in the corporate world that only took a lot of time and resulted in a binder full of materials that became obsolete after the next big reorg. I’ve seen that.

But, I’ve also seen how God has blessed our church family’s previous planning efforts. From the plans of that first small group that met in their homes then grew to converting a daycare center into a place of worship every Sunday. To work we did in the mis that set the objectives and led to the appointment of our first elders, a decision to grow, the doubling of worship attendance and contributions, relocating and building this facility and to maintaining a ratio of 1 full-time minister to every 150 in worship. All of this and a lot more have come as God has blessed our previous planning efforts.

Nearly everything we envisioned back in the ‘90s was achieved by 2002. It’s been almost eight years since then. So it’s way past time that we dream again and allow God to show us His clear direction and establish some exciting expectations for what new and amazing things He wants to accomplish through us next. 

So we look to this upcoming envisioning process with great anticipation and positive expectation.

Remember the excitement you felt when you were making plans to get married, or shopping for your first house, or preparing for your first baby, or maybe your first trip to Disney World. You dreamed about what it would be like. You made lots of plans.

Two years ago Denise and I got to take our first trip to Italy. We dreamed of making that trip for several years before we went. We saved for it. We worked with a great travel agent who helped us develop a workable itinerary, we bought airline, train and museum tickets, and we made hotels reservations all before the trip. Denise read Rick Steve’s 2008 book on Italy from cover to cover. I used Google Earth to “fly” from Rome to Florence to Venice and from site to site before we ever left. We envisioned and made plans for a great trip. And that’s what we had. It was a wonderful experience.

I have the same kind of excitement about the next chapter in God’s vision for Greenville Oaks and I can’t wait to start discovering it. As we get into the process, we’ll be sharing a lot more about what we’re learning.

But right now, I ask all of you to begin praying every day for God to powerfully bless this effort. Ask that he protect each person and their families who will be dedicating time and energy for all of our benefits. And that he guides them individually and as a group to his clear vision and effective strategy for Greenville Oaks.

So now, to begin this time of prayer would all the elders who are at this service please come to the front. And John (Greg in 2nd service) will lead us as we begin to ask for God’s blessing on our envisioning process.