Epworth Strategic Practices
In 2009 the Church Council passed the following Strategic Practices for Epworth to provide the focus for our mission and ministry for the next 2-5 years. Each Pathway has the opportunity to plan its programs and action plans in alignment with these strategic practices. The action plans proposed by the Pathways and approved by the Church Council should be measurable so we can evaluate our progress.
These proposed strategic practices provide key direction for Epworth to live out its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in practical ways that fit into our context for mission and ministry. They grow out of the Vision God has given us to become a church "reaching out, celebrating, and living the love of Jesus Christ". They seek to capture the core process by which God uses Epworth to make disciples - offering gracious invitation, welcome and hospitality of Christ so that persons can experience a sense of belonging; enabling God to shape souls and change minds through worship and creating a desire to grow closer to Christ; nurturing people and maturing faith through a loving and learning community and, with a maturing faith, helping others through mission and service as God inspires us to give generously of themselves so that others can experience the grace we have known. (These are modeled after Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase)
We intend to focus on Five Practices that will enable us to become a more "fruitful" congregation. Each has a brief description to provide direction but allow for creativity in response. The five practices are:
Intentional faith development
Risk-taking mission and service
|Practice 1: To be a church of truly "open minds, open hearts, and open doors" by practicing radical hospitality that invites and welcomes all to experience God's transforming grace.|
"Hospitality means we pray, plan, prepare, and work toward the purpose of helping others receive what we have received in Christ. Hospitality is a quality of spiritual initiative, the practice of an active and genuine love, a graciousness unaffected by self-interest, an opening of ourselves and our faith community to receive others. Radical hospitality offers a surprising and unexpected quality of depth and authenticity in caring for one another and guests....and surprises newcomers with a glimpse of the unmerited gracious love of God that they see in Christ."
|Practice 2: To be a church that offers passionate worship that integrates a celebration of God's presence in everything we do. Worship will be an essential part of every activity/program sponsored by Epworth.|
"In spiritually passionate communities, there's a palpable air of expectancy as people gather for worship. Passionate worship connects people with God and with one another, opens lives to the experience of God's grace and to the hearing and doing of God's Word, and forms people into the Body of Christ."
|Practice 3: To be a church that practices intentional faith development to assure all persons are growing in their discipleship.|
"Churches that practice intentional faith development offer high quality learning experiences that help people (of all ages and stages of life) understand Scripture, faith, and life in the supportive nurture of caring relationships."
|Practice 4: To be a church that practices Risk-taking mission and service as we share the love of Jesus Christ with the community and world.|
"The word mission turns church service outward. Mission reminds congregations that Christ's compassion, grace, mercy, and love extend to the entire world... Service, offering oneself in the deliberate effort to improve the conditions of others, is rooted in more than 3000 years of faith tradition...Risk-taking steps into greater uncertainty, a higher possibility of discomfort, resistance, or sacrifice. Risk-taking Mission and Service take people into ministries that push them out of their comfort zone, stretching them beyond the circle of relationships and practices that routinely define their faith commitments."
|Practice 5: To be a church that practices extravagant generosity in all we do and are as we respond to a God of abundance and blessing.|
"The practice of generosity describes the Christian's un-selfish willingness to give in order to make a positive difference for the purposes of Christ. Extravagant generosity describes practices of sharing and giving though prayers, presence, witness, gifts, and service that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures. It describes lavish sharing, sacrifice, and giving in service to God and neighbor."
An additional practice is added which will help us create an organization model that will support us in the first Five Practices.
|Practice 6: To be a church that is efficiently organized in order to provide effective mission and ministry. Create organization model to help us live the Five Practices.|
In order to effectively address our strategic practices the church must provide an organizational model to enable mission and ministry, assure human and financial resources, foster open communication and accountability, and encourage persons to use their spiritual gifts and talents. Does the way we do make decisions and do the "business" of the church enable our mission and ministry? If not, what needs to change? If so, what do we need to continue?