Taking a Long-Term View at FPC Nashville
The FPC Long Range Planning Committee and Session held a town hall meeting on May 13 to finalize the future plans for the next five years. This was the culmination of a three-year process. We used a grass roots approach to determine the needs of our church and society, which are in the midst of an ever-changing environment.
The process has been thorough — we conducted a church wide survey, held eight focus groups with specific demographics for each and hosted two town hall meetings.
Our church has been blessed to experience continual membership growth, with an increase of over 30% over the past 8 years. We have also had an increase of almost 50% in worship attendance. Although we grew over the past few years, the growth rate has slowed.
During the planning process, we also recognized that 25% of our membership is between ages 18 and 35, which is quite a revelation. According to a recent Gallup poll, 44% of all adults attend church, but only 35% between ages 18 and 29 attend. All mainline denominations are declining in membership, so we feel blessed with growth and want to continue growing. Our case for change is to transform lives and culture to address societal and demographic changes and trends.
Our New Five-Year Strategic Plan Includes a New Vision:
“First Presbyterian Church is a church family where all generations exhibit Christ’s love through lives marked by gratitude, hospitality and generosity.” Truly, a church that practices gratitude, makes and keeps promises, lives and speaks truthfully and offers hospitality is a church that has sustainable growth and relevance.
Our plan includes seven specific initiatives and five year goals. While we realize these are lofty goals, we think that with everyone participating they are achievable. These were presented in the May 2013 Town Hall meeting and approved by the Session in June 2013.
1. Evaluate leadership culture and the structure of councils and committees to improve transparency in decision making, foster innovative ideas and align leadership with the church’s focus on gratitude, hospitality and generosity.
2. Create personal connections and relationships by fostering, facilitating, creating, growing, expanding and communicating small, community groups for all generations, with a specific focus on re-developing the Parish ministry and evaluating/ developing education options as well as focusing on the life-stage needs of the entire congregation, particularly Youth, College, Young Adults, Young Families, Women and Older Adults.
3. Evaluate current worship options with a specific focus on developing or integrating new styles of worship that better fit the needs of a multi-generational church.
4. Develop a need-based evangelism & outreach program beyond the current focus of missions.
5. Grow and expand stewardship by redefining who gives (everyone), ways in which we can give (including time and talent) and how we can be generous in our giving.
6. Evaluate current communications and create an effective marketing and communications strategy that:
a. Aligns the brand with the vision, and
b. Attracts, retains and engages new people in the church with a focus on young adults and those new to Nashville.
7. Create and reinforce a culture of openness and hospitality that actively welcomes visitors and new members into the life of the church and fosters opportunities for ongoing relationships.
— Bill Kirby, Co-Chair, Long Range Planning Committee