Growing. It’s exciting. It can be intimidating. Anyone who’s raised children remembers the excitement of first steps, a first base hit or goal scored or watching a child’s first recital. Parents also remember the nervous nights watching a newborn sleeping, “Is (s)he breathing…” We remember hesitant first days in school, learning to drive and sending our beloved to college. Growing is great! Growing can be painful.
Our Shepherd, her school and community are growing! There are three neighborhoods being built across the street. Our Pre-school and Pre-K classes are full. Sunday school attendance is about 275/week. We have just under 600 in worship. We have grown quite a bit these past few years.
To help guide our growth and planning for our future, we are considering a new vision statement. Our governing documents call us to revisit this statement every other year. Our current vision statement was established late 2013, so we are a bit behind, but we’d rather get it right than just get something down on paper.
In 2013, our vision statement expressed our desire to not just survive, but to thrive. It was intended to rally around the idea that we could praise God for His constant and consistent presence with us in this place. We wanted to honor Him through faithfulness, excellence and personal sacrifice. Our vision at the time became:
“To thrive as one Christ-centered family, welcoming individuals from all walks of life,
nurtured by God through faithful worship, education, and excellent ministries
as we gladly sacrifice for God’s kingdom.”
When this statement was adopted, we had an average weekly attendance of 414 people in three weekly worship services. We recognized growth and the changing community around us. We adapted by adding our Worship on Wednesday services following the 2014 Lenten season. We continued that weekly Wednesday service in order to provide another opportunity for our busy church members to worship on a day other than or in addition to Sunday. Our continued growth led us to hire a full-time Worship Director and add a third worship service on Sunday mornings. We have since added a part-time DCE Consultant and a full-time DCE Intern on staff to help us navigate our educational opportunities and programming.
Our current average weekly attendance of 579 people is a nearly 40% increase from four years ago. Our giving grew by 12% last year alone. Sunday School attendance is 400-500% higher (depending on age group) than it was last spring. Our Senior High youth group participation is the highest it has ever been.
Not only are we growing our capacity for ministry inside of our walls, we’re reaching our community and the world through technology and outreach. Our Confirmation Instruction allows our families to connect with catechism instruction anytime, anywhere via our YouTube channel. In the past two weeks, we have been approached by four families, not currently members, regarding Confirmation instruction for their children. We have such an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to our neighbors by being open and accessible.
It’s time for a new vision statement to reflect our current life together at Our Shepherd. The proposed Vision Statement is intentional and relevant to where we are in this time and place:
"Growing as a community in Christ as we SHARE LIFE WITH OUR SHEPHERD."
We are growing, both individually and collectively. We want to SHARE (present tense, yet also in the future) LIFE WITH OUR SHEPHERD. In order to do so, we hope this new statement will direct our work in God’s kingdom.
The Vision Team realized that it was no longer necessary to be content with simply being “good enough.” It was time to focus on thriving in pursuit of excellence. The new Vision Statement encompasses our desire to continue to grow. We are confident in God’s grace, and we have the desire to share that with our surrounding community. To SHARE God’s love with others. To do our best for the Kingdom of God, recognizing it is God who works in us and through us to accomplish His purpose.
Growing is both exciting and intimidating. May we grow in a way that brings us together as we grow in Christ. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6