This blog is the fifth entry in a series of blogs focused on clarifying the vision culture at Freshwater. My goal is to bring absolute clarity to who Freshwater is, why we exist, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. If you need to catch up, go back and read the last several blogs with similar titles.
Freshwater’s vision culture stems from six different sources that are aligned to support the goal of making disciples. These sources stem from the following questions:
2. Who are we? This question examines our core values.
3. Why does Freshwater exist? This is a question of purpose.
4. What will we do? This is a question of mission.
5. How will we do it? Strategies are the practical plans for making it happen.
6. Where/when are we going? This is a question of goals.
Think of it as a six-layer pyramid with our goals on top and our core-beliefs at the bottom anchoring everything we do. (A picture of this pyramid is attached on the bottom of this blog.) Today I am discussing question number five in order to give you a better idea of the strategies Freshwater utilizes to accomplish our disciple-making mission.
The word “strategy” is actually a military term referring to “the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war. It also refers to the art of military command exercised to meet the enemy in combat under advantageous conditions.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strategy, accessed 1 April 2014)
At Freshwater, we employ strategies to fight the enemy in an effort to expand the kingdom of God. These strategies involve how we do ministry. Every ministry has (or should have) strategic plans for how it will accomplish the goal of making disciples. These strategies are evaluated on a regular basis, allowing mid-course corrections and improvements. Regardless of the ministry, all strategies include five common principles that are closely tied to our purpose statement, core-values, and core-beliefs.
Core Ministry Strategy Principles
1. How does this ministry help reach people for Christ? Every ministry must determine how they are helping to reach people for Christ. For example: How do we reach children for Christ? By creating an excellent, inviting atmosphere and educating parents. How do we reach students for Christ? By consistently having an excellent and engaging student ministry. How do we reach the community for Christ? By engaging in strategic outreach events; sponsoring a booth at the Carver County fair, participating in Trista Days, the St Boni Easter Egg Hunt, advertising on Facebook, creating a memorable Good Friday experience, etc. Every ministry must figure out the best way for their ministry to reach people for Christ and determine how their strategy fits into the overall Freshwater culture.
2. How does this ministry connect people together to develop significant, Christ-centered relationships? Every ministry must help people connect on a relational level. When people serve side by side they have the opportunity to develop lasting relationships. When people gather in small groups they are connecting in a significant way. Leadership teams help people connect and accomplish tasks. Every ministry must consider how they help people connect to form spiritual friendships. This may look different for every ministry, but the question is always the same.
3. How does this ministry challenge people to grow spiritually? As a church, our goal is to help ministry leaders, volunteers, and participants to take the next step in their spiritual journey. Every ministry needs to intentionally challenge people on a spiritual level. If a person is exploring Christ, we challenge them to take the next step and commit their life to Christ. If they are growing in Christ, we challenge them to become closer to Christ. If they are close to Christ, they are challenged to live a Christ centered life. Challenging people to go deeper is a continual process.
4. How does this ministry encourage people to get involved? We believe that every member is a minister. Believers belong in the game and not on the bench; therefore, every ministry needs to have a clear leadership development pipeline that allows people the opportunity to have more responsibility and ownership.
5. How does this ministry challenge people to honor God with their lives? We provide a platform for friendships to develop, hold people accountable, challenge them to take the next step in their faith, and give them opportunities to expand their ministry influence. We do this with one ultimate goal in mind, to encourage people to honor God with their lives.
Jesus’ strategy to reach the world today is through His church. He commissioned it to accomplish His mission. What He didn’t do was give specific details telling us exactly how we need to do it. That He leaves up to us. Freshwater has used many different strategies to accomplish Jesus’ mission. Adding a second and third service at the St. Boni campus was a strategic decision that enabled us to continue to make disciples. Adding a second campus in Waconia was a strategic decision, along with adding a Saturday night service in Waconia.
Several years ago we were having trouble retaining guests. So we sat down and reviewed our strategy for assimilating guests into fully devoted followers of Christ. After reviewing our existing strategy, we decided we needed to change it. Prior to tweaking our plan, we only sent out new welcome packets to adults. Then we realized that a lot of new guests never fill out the communication card, but if they have kids, they needed to check them into Freshwater Kids. We decided to communicate as a staff and share info. This enabled us to reach out to new guests with kids even if they didn’t fill out a communication card. We do the same for students. Do some people still slip through the cracks? Sure, but a lot less than the number that used too. When we added a second campus our assimilation plan needed a complete overhaul. After six months we will evaluate it again, but in the meantime we are making mid-course corrections as needed.
Strategies are like game plans. They help us move the chains down the field to score another touchdown, putting a few points on the board for Jesus. Strategies also change. Just because a strategy worked once somewhere doesn’t mean that it will work again, or that it’ll work forever. Every ministry must constantly review their strategies to determine if they are effective, need modification, or perhaps even a complete overhaul.
So that’s how our strategy works at Freshwater. Next week we will examine our BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal). Until then……