In January every year our Program and Church Council leaders hold a one day planning retreat. This retreat allows us to get to know one another as leaders of the church. We also spend time talking about the big issues facing the church as well as our plans for the current year. Specific plans and ideas always come from our time together.
This year's retreat was held on Saturday, January 12th, at the House in the Woods at Maryville College. Approximately 20 leaders and staff gathered to reflect on three "big" ideas:
1. Which events or programs from 2012 were particularly meaningful and how do we make improvements or changes to our program ministries?
2. What new things would we plan or launch in 2013 as part of our shared ministry?
3. What are some challenges that we need to be addressing in our long term planning and visioning?
The list of "success" stories from 2012 was long and impressive. Highlighting our need to communicate better was the fact that at least some of the reports shared were new information to other leaders. Therefore one of the needs identified is to communicate in more and different ways to be sure that we are telling the Church Street story. A related item on the list for improvement is better signage and accessibility for everyone. We also identified the need for a stewardship emphasis that goes beyond giving and encourages year-round participation in the ministry of the church. The Program Council will be asked to address these immediate needs as we work through this year.
For new programs or ideas three areas were highlighted: new media pieces and places that tell about our ministries and opportunities for service, a "connection" fair to encourage volunteer involvement, and increasing the number of opportunities for small groups. The Program Council will also have responsibility to develop plans and programs around all of these issues.
The long-range strategic planning ideas include increasing and retaining membership, financial stewardship and planned giving, and a shared vision, mission, and message. All of these will require multi-year effort by many different areas of ministry in the church.
At the close of our retreat, we shared a time of worship and Holy Communion. Pastor Andy had a brief devotion on not forgetting to rely on God for help in the midst of our many successes, a great message to end our time away and give us a vision for 2013. Overall it was a wonderful day and a great way to start a new year at Church Street.