THE WAY FORWARD PLAN

MAY 15 CONGREGATIONAL GATHERING

Ministry Purpose Presentations

“Way Forward” Message Rev. Scott Lawson

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What is Way Forward About?

In late 2019, Starmount began a process of discerning God’s call upon the congregation for the future.   Many members of Starmount participated in “Discovery” or “Impact” meetings at that time.   We had no idea of what lay ahead with Covid and the pandemic did slow our discernment and study process.  But the past two years also clarified our conviction that we must be prepared to re-examine all our ideas and assumptions about how we are church in the world.   Way Forward initially referred to a small ad hoc committee who would study various issues and make recommendations to the Session, Starmount’s governing body.   In early 2022, this report was presented to the Session; considered, amended, and is being introduced to the congregation in March 2022.  

Over these two years, Way Forward has come to refer this comprehensive effort to, in the prayer of the 13th century bishop Saint Richard of Chichester, “Know Thee more clearly, Love Thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly.”   Because the earliest Christians were known as “the people of the way” [Acts 9:2], Way Forward is a biblically grounded and relevant way to understand our work as followers of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.  

FAQs

Ministry Purposes

In late 2019, Starmount began a process of discerning God’s call upon the congregation for the future.   Many members of Starmount participated in “Discovery” or “Impact” meetings at that time.   We had no idea of what lay ahead with Covid and the pandemic did slow our discernment and study process.  But the past two years also clarified our conviction that we must be prepared to re-examine all our ideas and assumptions about how we are church in the world.   Way Forward initially referred to a small ad hoc committee who would study various issues and make recommendations to the Session, Starmount’s governing body.   In early 2022, this report was presented to the Session; considered, amended, and is being introduced to the congregation in March 2022.  

 

Over these two years, Way Forward has come to refer this comprehensive effort to, in the prayer of the 13th century bishop Saint Richard of Chichester, “Know Thee more clearly, Love Thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly.”   Because the earliest Christians were known as “the people of the way” [Acts 9:2], Way Forward is a biblically grounded and relevant way to understand our work as followers of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.  

There is no denying the changing demographics of Starmount are a concern we must address.   We all miss families with children!   But the motivations behind “Way Forward” run deeper than those we miss on Sunday mornings.   All churches have been compelled to change over the past several years, but COVID only hastened fundamental shifts already taking place in American society.  The choice for Starmount is not “change vs. no change” but rather reactive change (to what is happening to us) vs. proactive change based on our belief in the call of God and God’s providential care.   Change is constant in all of life.  The challenge for the church over 20 centuries has always been to wisely discern between the foundational beliefs which must not change and how to engage with the world which is always changing.   How can we be both faithful to the Gospel and the relevant to those we are called to serve?  This is the exciting question that frames all our Way Forward conversations and prayers.

Much of what you love about Starmount will not dramatically change- our commitment to rich and meaningful worship, our abiding concern for the well-being of others, especially refugees in the Greensboro community, the sense of being part of a loving and caring community.   What will change is how we are organized and equipped to live out our ministry and mission.   We aim to have a more flexible and responsive organizational structure that allows for a multitude of ministries- some existing and some new to thrive and grow.  We will be more willing to try experiments with new ministries, some of which will succeed, and some will not.   But in our successes and failures we will be learning about persistence, resilience and the grace of God which covers all.

This transition will occur over the next 6 months; however, it will be an ongoing process of learning and adapting that will endure far beyond that timeframe.  During that same timeframe, elders and committee chairs will be matched to new ministries. In April, newly identified ministry leaders will revise their ministry descriptions, and current committees will be invited to discuss the transition. In May, we anticipate a second congregational gathering in which the ministry leaders will share the scope of their ministries and invite members to participate. The summer months will be a time of further transition. The new ministries will be in place by August.

In the simplest terms, a “committee” tends to be more task-driven.  Our intention for the new “ministries” is that they will be more purpose-driven.  In a task driven committee, the work to be done sets the agenda.   This agenda can easily become fixed and resistant to change, even when so much else around us is changing.   This often leads to committees feeling overwhelmed and it also tends to leave little space for innovative ideas or creativity, since anything new must be done on top of the existing list of tasks.   Our ministries will focus first on the “why” behind what they are doing. They will engage in continual discernment regarding the impact God is calling them to make.  Tasks and activities will flow out of a clearer understanding of this intended impact.  Tasks will also be regularly evaluated to determine if they are achieving their intended outcomes.  This allows ministries more flexibility to engage in creative ideas, to try new things, and adapt to changing circumstances

The answer to this question will of course vary depending on which ministry you are serving. In some cases, your responsibilities may remain the same. In other cases, they may change.  Our hope is that in each of these ministries you will find more opportunities to try new things, experiment with innovative ideas, and collaborate with other ministries to bring these ideas to life. 

There will be many ways to participate in these new ministries.  Some individuals will serve as voting members of the ministry, meaning that they will attend regular (usually monthly) meetings to make decisions regarding that particular ministry.  Others may simply indicate that they are interested in serving on a specific ministry team or an individual project. No matter what your availability or level of interest may be, there is a place for you to serve in the ministries of the church.

Starmount Presbyterian currently has 15 Committees. Under the Way Forward Plan, we would have 8 Ministries.  This means some of our committees will be absorbed or combined into new ministries.  The responsibilities of the Administration committee will be distributed across several ministries.  The Endowment Committee will be absorbed into the Finance ministry.  We will continue to have seasonal committees such as Stewardship and Nominating. Elders will serve on these groups in addition to the 8 ministries.  We will also continue our strong support for our outstanding preschool.  The Preschool committee will continue to have an elder liaison and church members who serve on it, however we will give them the freedom to select their own chair who may or may not always be a church member.

Below is a list of how our current committees match up with the new ministries:

Inspiring Faith – Worship & Music + Faith Formation

Children & Youth – Faith Formation

Connections – Fellowship + Membership

Congregational Engagement & Growth – Caring + E&M

In March 2022 we hired Annette Black as our newest staff member.  As our Administrative Assistant, Annette will work closely with Anne Cullinan & Sheila Beane to collaboratively support the congregation, program staff and ministries of Starmount. There are no current plans to hire additional staff but staffing, which is always in response to needs, resources and vision may change soon.  The staff will be leaner going forward and though they will support various ministries the expectation that staff will “take care of it” needs to change as well.   In Way Forward, ministries must be supported by active lay involvement if they are to grow

In the coming months, you will have various opportunities to share your ideas and questions in person and virtually.   These gatherings will be announced in the coming weeks.  You may also, at any time, reach out to a Session member or one of your pastors, as well.  Also, you can send an email to wayforward@starmountpres.org any time.  To learn more about Way Forward, stay in-touch through all Starmount’s media- the monthly newsletter, “This Week” updates. These various media are in addition to the in-person and virtual meetings for you to attend if you wish.  

The Session has been overwhelmingly supportive of the general direction of Way Forward and we believe this reflects the sentiment of the congregation.  Please continue to pray for Starmount, your church leaders and for the various aspects of Way Forward.   Expressions of kindness and goodness (the fruits of the Spirit!) are always welcome.   Mainly, you are encouraged to find your own way to participate in the Way Forward, through your financial

The Connections Ministry will build a network of strong, loving connections within the church family to include all generations and all family members, both church members and non-members.  It will connect people by first understanding each and every person’s passions, then by designing and planning events, activities, and gatherings both relevant and engaging to and for the Starmount family.

 

One of Starmount’s core values is the belief that God has called the church to serve as Christ’s hands and feet in this world, sharing the love of Christ and serving others who are in need. The Mission Ministry will help the members of Starmount live out this calling.

To fulfill our purpose the Mission Ministry will:

  • Bring together volunteers and financial resources of the church to meet the needs of those in the community and beyond
  • Foster relationships with community partners to increase the impact of our service
  • Build relationships among church members as they serve together as well as those in the community with whom we serve
  • Create opportunities for church members to serve in hands-on ways and encourage every member to “have a mission”
  • Share the stories of what God is doing in and through our congregation, so that those both inside and outside the church are well informed with how God is at work in this place

 

 

The goal of the Mission Ministry is to empower members of the Starmount congregation to be involved in a ministry in which they have a passion.  Turn the page for our current list of Mission Ministries.  Join us in Mission.

The Congregational Engagement and Growth Ministry will provide a “ministry of presence” defined as care, connections, and support for all those in need.  This ministry focuses on connections and engagement of everyone in the sphere of the church regardless of membership status.  Senior and homebound members receive special attention as do families with small children or others focusing on special needs or situations.

The Inspiring Faith Ministry will faithfully design, plan, and coordinate events and programs related the entire spectrum of the church’s spiritual growth, meaning Sunday morning worship and well beyond.  Spiritual growth opportunities will be inspiring and relevant to life in the 21st century and will include a variety of programs that resonate with our diverse congregation.  The ministry will encourage and invite all individuals to actively engage in a regular rhythm of worship for both individual and collective spiritual growth.  The ministry will explore new ways of deepening faith, embracing freedom of experimentation while revitalizing Starmount traditions that continue to reflect the church’s mission and core ideals.

The Children and Youth Ministry will provide a loving environment that focuses on the faith development of children and youth from birth to 18, and support for their families.  We will strive to provide engaging activities, studies and support for learning, growth, and bonding with the church.  We will use digital communication to families and connections with the children and youth as an educational and outreach tool.

The Finance Ministry will faithfully receive, steward and use the church’s financial assets in a manner that supports the church’s mission and ministries.  It will energize a strong ministry of outreach and assist individual believers in establishing and keeping a healthy relationship with money and material possessions in their own life.

Many take for granted our facilities are maintained without much assistance from the congregation.  If you become a part of the Property Ministry, you will quickly discover that there are many roles which must be filled to maintain our buildings and grounds.  Our ministry members might sell a church bus, fix a fan in the preschool bathroom, call vendors for quotes or to schedule maintenance, or make financial decisions on how our money is best spent.

The Property Ministry has an important responsibility…to be sure our facilities are maintained for the next generation and generations to come.

Are you interested in the inner workings of our property and how it is maintained?  You do not need to be a plumber, carpenter, or electrician to be a part of this ministry; you only need to love your church!

The responsibilities of the Personnel Committee, on behalf of the Session, include employment of non-ordained staff, compliance with legislated programs such as equal employment opportunity, Safe Church Policy, Board of Pensions, and annual review of compensation for all staff.

MARCH 22 CONGREGATIONAL GATHERING

CONGREGATIONAL GATHERING PRESENTATION

Click Here to Link to March 22, 2022 Congregational Gathering PowerPoint Presentation