More than two dozen people in leadership roles at St. Mark’s attended a half-day retreat on Saturday, April 13 to discuss the congregation’s strategic plan, now under construction. The plan also was the focus of the Adult Forum gathering on Palm Sunday, April 14.
Leading both meetings was Jim LaDoux, who works with congregations around the nation as a coach/consultant for Minneapolis-based Vibrant Faith. LaDoux has counseled the new St. Mark’s Compass Team, tasked with developing the plan, which will then be presented to the St. Mark’s Leadership Council for review and consideration.
Three congregational forums also are planned in May (see schedule at the end of the article), during which all are welcome to ask questions and share ideas with the Compass Team.
Participants at the Saturday retreat included Council members, committee chairs and ministry leaders. They heard more details from the congregational survey that was done earlier this year. Nancy Wilkerson, convener of the Compass Team, sketched out demographic data and summarized perceptions and priorities listed by the 70 people who responded to the survey. And they heard key insights from LaDoux about what makes for an effective plan.
LaDoux said the strategic plan aims to help the congregation “create a culture of spiritual vitality” in a way that honors our calling and mission and helps us to bring our best to one another and to our community. That requires inspection and reflection, he said, and an embrace of adaptive change. What should we hold onto? What has been meaningful? We don’t want to lose that. What should we reconsider—perhaps celebrate its value in the past and let it go as something that accomplished its mission? Adaptive change can help to make room for new growth.
“If you want a deeper connection to the community, what does that look like?” LaDoux asked. “Maybe it is three signature programs. You can’t manage 15. To do your best might mean you do less.”
LaDoux said he sees great strengths at St. Mark’s—especially its caring and service-oriented atmosphere. He agreed with all who expressed desire for better communication and said he also sees an immediate need to better define and sharpen the church governance structure. He sees that as necessary before any expansion or new programs or ministries might be considered. He is collating material gathered in the discussion groups, will summarize that information and work with the Compass Team to bring further clarity to near- and longer-term goals.
“There’s a lot to celebrate here,” he said. “Every church has challenges. Sometimes we get so caught up in the challenges that we don’t see the strengths.”
Telling the stories of God’s work in our lives is a powerful way to develop the faith community, he said.
• Three discussion sessions have been scheduled to give opportunity for all in the congregation to meet with members of the Compass Team, ask questions and share ideas. The schedule is as follows:
• Sunday, May 5, 10 a.m. in the Seminary Room
• Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. in the Seminary Room
• Sunday, May 19, noon in the Seminary Room
The Compass Team includes Pastor Scott Maxwell, Nancy Wilkerson (convener), Nichole Bishop, Peg Bradley, Beth Miller, Dwight Novotny and Mike Patterson.