Our Future

Providence United Methodist Church 2015:
A Strategic Vision

The 2009 Strategic Planning Team (SPT) has identified seven strategic directions to guide our church through 2015. The team arrived at these directions after sustained reflection, in consultation with outside leaders and in collaboration with over 250 members of Providence United Methodist Church who spoke to us in congregational conversations.

The SPT shared these strategic directions with the congregation for feedback on October 14 and 18, 2009, and presents them on November 16, 2009, at the Church Conference for our congregation's approval.

In the first quarter of 2010, seven design teams will meet to shape these strategic directions into concrete plans for mission and ministry. The Committee on Lay Leadership, with guidance from the SPT, will name the members of these design teams. The work of the design teams will return to the SPT in the spring of 2010 for revision and subsequent approval.

The SPT will present the final strategic plan, including the design team's recommendations that are adopted by the SPT, to the Church Council in May 2010 for official action. Such action could include a feasibility study to ascertain the feasibility and manner of obtaining necessary financial resources to implement portions of the strategic plan. At the completion of such a study, the recommendations will return again to the Church Council for action in September 2010. One outcome may be a financial appeal to the congregation, beyond the annual budget. Appropriate committees (finance, staff-parish, trustees) will be integrally involved in this process. These plans for mission and ministry (seven strategic directions) will become Providence United Methodist Church's roadmap in the years 2011-2015.

Our Purpose

We care about the future of our church and trust that God will continue to speak and act through the people of Providence United Methodist Church. Our plan seeks to be relevant, agile and flexible, as we adapt to a changing world while also honoring the rich traditions and core strengths that have led us to the present.

We have been guided in the presentation of these strategic directions by two important commitments:

1) Our Vision statement: "To be the body of Christ, glorifying God and serving others"

2) The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, adopted as our mission strategy in 2008

We propose, along with the seven strategic directions, an amendment to our church's Vision statement in a simple but significant way: "A growing body of Christ, glorifying God and serving others." We have watched our church grow, over the past 50 years, to become a large and vital congregation whose influence is strong in our own city and extends to several continents. At the same time, we believe that future growth is essential if we are to be faithful: growing in the number of persons coming to faith, growing in spiritual maturity, and growing in mission to those beyond our walls. The seven strategic directions are listed in an order that corresponds to our Vision statement.

1. "Reaching Others through Radical Hospitality"

What is our strategic direction?

Throughout our history, Providence United Methodist Church has invested significant resources, at great sacrifice, to build and renovate our large and beautiful campus. We will capitalize on this investment by improving the signage around our campus, making it more invitational and informative. We also will open our facilities to new people. This could include weekday events when our atrium would be a setting for coffee, music and conversation, with an "open house" invitation to the community. Another expression of outreach would be ongoing classes in exercise and wellness, with connections to the Alcoholics Anonymous community and the Providence United Methodist Church Weekday School, and with targeted communication to young adults. As prospective members visit and new members join, we need to offer continuing hospitality to ensure their connection to our church. In addition, we will conduct our ministries in other parts of the community. We anticipate that some of these initiatives will be planned for young adults, by young adults. This strategic direction could include partnering with another church that would benefit from our core strengths. Planning for these initiatives will include attention to safety concerns for people coming into our church and taking God's Word beyond our campus.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

We have built our "field of dreams" and some have come. Now we ask the question: Why did we build our facility in the first place? Did we build it for existing members or in preparation for our community and our guests (Acts 2)? Our church is positioned at a visible intersection of the city. We have a great story to tell, and we have a beautiful and spacious house with lots of room.

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

Providence United Methodist Church is filled with friendly and caring people (Romans 15). The renovations to our campus have produced a warm, courteous and welcoming environment. The "Igniting Ministry" program has helped us be more intentionally aware of guests who are new to our community. Our core strengths of social relationships, worship and outreach will draw people entering our doors into our fellowship.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Radical Hospitality

Our primary partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: The Board of Trustees; young adults; people in the hospitality field; the PUMC Weekday School; the Alcoholics Anonymous community; our musicians and other musicians; a leader of the Joy Class; and our church hostess.

2. "Intentionally Growing Our Faith and Friendships"

What is our strategic direction?

In the coming years, Providence United Methodist Church will expand the number of portals into and out of the church. By becoming a more inviting church, we will double or triple the number of small groups meeting here and in the community. As a large membership church, we will create "small churches" within the larger church so that every member will become a disciple of Jesus Christ with a sense of community and belonging. We also will explore the model of a "house church" or "church within a church" for those who prefer the resources of a large congregation but seek the intimacy of a smaller group. We will seek to create opportunities for more intergenerational interactions in small groups. In all of these endeavors, the unique needs of each generation involved will be addressed – providing child care for families of young children, transportation and building access for older members and addressing other specific needs.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

As Providence United Methodist Church becomes larger, and as the city of Charlotte becomes more populated and complex, the need for friendships is greater (John 15). At the same time, these relationships are more difficult to create and sustain. As people find meaning in small groups, they become more emotionally connected to each other, more spiritually connected to the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4), and more financially invested in the church's mission.

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

Providence United Methodist Church has a history of strength in its small groups. From the earliest days of this church, our DNA has included very strong Sunday School classes, including the Wesley Men's Class, the Christian Home Class and the Chipley Bible Class, and that tradition continues today. At present, Providence United Methodist Church ranks in the top one percentile (1%) among all United Methodists and in the Western North Carolina Conference in Sunday School attendance and participation in United Methodist Women's Circles. We also have a strong tradition of Disciple Bible Study and ChristCare groups. The presence of the Joy Class (related to UMAR, which serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities) is a continuing reminder of God's grace. In addition, we host many important ongoing community-based gatherings, including the Career Transitions group and Alcoholics Anonymous groups. All of these groups have helped individuals to find a sense of belonging while also providing opportunities for leadership development and the expression of compassion.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Intentional Faith Development

Our primary partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: Resources in Christian education and small group development; and a staff person devoted to small group development and adult education/ evangelism.

3. "Glorifying God through Passionate and Engaging Worship"

What is our strategic direction?

Providence United Methodist Church will continue creating an engaging worship environment for people of all ages. We will offer worship to God that is creative and inspiring, as well as relevant and accessible, to people of all generations and of diverse backgrounds. In our worship, we will honor our strong Methodist history and liturgy and will incorporate enhancements to our existing worship practices.

We will connect our worship more clearly with our mission relationships in the community, offering traditional and non-traditional worship and music in other parts of the church or in the community beyond our walls or at times other than Sunday morning at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. We also will strengthen our children's ministry and will focus additional resources and efforts on attracting and retaining the next generation for the worship of God.

We will establish a Music Academy that will train people of all ages in music leadership, in order to prepare church musicians and vocalists for the future. Using seed money already designated for its construction, we will raise additional funds to construct a new pipe organ that will serve our church for the next 50 to 75 years. In addition, we will share the strengths of our worship and music with congregations and leaders in other settings.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

Worship is the foundation of our connection to God and to one another. The worship service is one of the first impressions people have of the tradition and rituals that shape our identity (Romans 12). As people of God, we are called to worship God (Psalm 95); therefore, we offer our best in worship. Through carefully planned spoken and sung praise, along with prayer, confession, the spoken Word and our response to it, we connect ourselves to the rich history of Christian worship across the centuries. It also is critical to our future that we continue to spiritually form the next generation through worship. Our worship opportunities also must become more flexible and diverse while maintaining our Methodist tradition.

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

We are blessed with a rich tradition of worship and music, strong pastoral leadership and a congregation that thrives on fellowship and a strong attendance. Additionally, ours is a welcoming church, although we need to strive consistently and diligently to welcome in a genuine manner everyone who worships with us. In the United Methodist Church, our worship attendance ranks in the top one percentile (1%). Among 1,100 churches in the Western North Carolina Conference, our worship attendance ranks in the top two percentile (2%), and our chancel choir is one of the largest in the Western North Carolina Conference. Also, an important aspect of our church is a graded choir program with opportunities for children, youth and adults.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Passionate Worship

Our primary partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: The Organ Committee; churches with strengths in traditional worship who have embraced creativity and diversity in their worship programs; PUMC members who have gifts in non-traditional music and worship; a Music Academy Board to be formed in the future; and the children's ministry.

4. "Developing Strong Leaders"

What is our strategic direction?

To ensure our continued strength and growth, Providence United Methodist Church will identify and nurture the natural gift of strong servant leadership skills that exists within a cross-section of our existing and potential church members. We also will develop the leadership skills of our staff, and we will develop the skills of our members and staff to include mentorship programs. We will attract and develop young people who will become the future leaders of the church. We will learn "best practices" for leadership training and development from other vital congregations and will offer our own findings to other churches through interactive conferences and other exchanges.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

Strong and effective leadership is needed both within the church and in the community beyond us. As followers of Jesus, we learn from his example of recognizing the leadership skills that were present in his disciples. His model of servant leadership (John 13) gives the world an alternative path, and his model of transforming disciples into leaders (choosing the 12, and then the 70) was the ultimate "Train the Trainer" model. The church must provide multiple opportunities for learning so that servant leaders will be better trained and equipped to positively affect the various environments in which they live and work by employing Jesus Christ's teachings and ways (John 14).

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

Providence United Methodist Church is blessed with strong leadership in many areas, among them the youth ministry; an effective nominations process for Lay Leadership; a formal mentoring process that exists on some committees; leaders of the Stephen Ministry and facilitators of Disciple Bible Study; and chairpersons of major events and initiatives (including those related to United Methodist Women and Missions).

Our church also is blessed with many community and business leaders who are prepared to further develop their own spiritual focus and servant leadership skills. The health of our church is based not on the leadership of a small number of staff but on engaged, equipped and diverse lay leaders of all generations, who are empowered to undertake ministries. At the same time, leadership development among staff members is essential if we are to respond to the complexities of congregational life in the future.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Extravagant Generosity and Intentional Faith Development

Our primary partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: The Church of The Resurrection Leadership Conference (www.cor.org); the writings of Robert Greenleaf on Servant Leadership; Faith and Leadership at Duke Divinity School (http://faithandleadership.com); The Five Practices (www.fivepractices.org); and a Stephen Leader.

 

5. "Expanding Connections through Technology and Communication"

What is our strategic direction?

Building on work that is already underway, Providence United Methodist Church will utilize technology to tell our story (Acts 1) beyond the walls of our church and strengthen the social networks within our church. In this way, we will increase the influence of our ministries without building new facilities, thus allowing resources to flow into other internal and external needs. While this strategic direction is shaped by technological change, at its heart is the importance of effective communication.

In particular, we plan to develop the weekly video and audio dissemination of our worship service (or a portion of it) online and to other locations for tailored worship settings. In addition, we hope to expand opportunities for online giving and will explore potential uses of other media, including radio and television, to reach current and future members. Where needed, we will include technology education opportunities for our members so they can take advantage of these evolving media.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

Research indicates that the average person in the United States, across all ages, spends eight hours a day at a computer. In particular, the next generations are highly attuned to the use of technology in their spiritual and social relationships. It is important that we connect an experience of Christianity with our shifting habits. A number of important lifestyle changes over the past years have created many opportunities for people to travel and be physically away from worship events, creating an urgent need to connect with them in other ways. Examples of such individuals are:

  • Students living in other places
  • Missionaries in other countries
  • Families involved in sports or other cultures that take them away from Sunday worship
  • Seniors living in retirement communities
  • Members who have homes in more than one location
  • Members who are away from church for other reasons

 

Through the use of technology, our church will evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. We have the strong sense that, in the future, social networking will be one of the important ways that we fulfill our vision, "A growing body of Christ, glorifying God and serving others."

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

While our church has tremendous room for improvement in this area, primarily due to our current infrastructure and staffing needs, we also already have taken important steps in this direction. Examples from our recent past include the ability to view the Sunday sermon on our website, daily Advent devotionals delivered by e-mail, the senior pastor's blog, the "Psalms in the Summer" series, communities on Facebook and Twitter, the 35 days of Five Practices Devotionals, the bi-weekly PUMC e-Vision, and websites that support families living with chronic illness.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Extravagant Generosity and Passionate Worship

Our primary partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: Our members who have skills in marketing, information technology and communications; The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (www.cor.org); and local cable and radio providers.

6. "Building Communities through Risk-Taking Local Mission"

What is our strategic direction?

Providence United Methodist Church will be fully engaged in serving and in utilizing our facilities and resources through building housing structures and building homes. We have been extremely active in building houses and providing housing, including temporary shelter on our campus. In the future, we will become more focused at a deeper level of building homes, which will be more spiritual structures for families. At the same time, we will increase our engagement in building houses, especially by engaging and involving a new generation of volunteers from our church. We will prepare them for success by educating them regarding the work they are doing and the people they are serving, so they will remain productive and empowered in their service.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

As we seek to help the citizens of Charlotte, we also are securing our own well-being (Jeremiah 29), and as we provide shelter for the stranger among us, we are welcoming Jesus (Matthew 25). Housing in Charlotte is inadequate, people are hungry, family relationships are deficient or lacking, and many children are struggling as learners. The economic downturn has made the housing issue even more critical for families on the edge, and it has at the same time created a window of opportunity (e.g., in terms of lower housing costs) to address those needs that may not be available again in our lifetime. Moving people out of shelters and temporary housing provides a more conducive environment for long-term success. We can invest in people who have very basic needs and thereby equip them to become productive citizens over time.

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

Providence United Methodist Church is blessed with talented and committed people, substantial financial resources and multi-use facilities. We respond to Jesus' call to serve our community. Our desire is to build housing structures and nurture homes that are havens of blessings and peace. We have significant experiences in serving the local Charlotte community through providing shelter and care to homeless neighbors and families in transition; building Habitat Homes; volunteering in the local schools; and partnering with other congregations and government and non-profit agencies to achieve these objectives. Hundreds of our members are involved actively and consistently in these initiatives. One of our challenges will be to commit our human and financial capital strategically at the times and places where it will be most valuable and productive.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Risk-Taking Mission and Service

Our primary partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: Other congregations; existing housing initiatives in Charlotte, including WISH and Habitat for Humanity; The Alexander Youth Network's On Ramp Initiative; The Foundation for the Carolinas; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; and the YMCA.

7. "Transforming the World: Haiti and Beyond"

What is our strategic direction?

We are committed to building upon a significant history of mission in Haiti, through the continuation of work in health care, further development of an emerging micro credit program, and expansion of an existing primary school to include middle, secondary and vocational educational opportunities. In addition, we will deepen relationships and offer substantial support to missionaries in other countries, beginning with individuals who have relationships with Providence United Methodist Church in Southeast Asia, Latvia and Liberia. We will focus on making lasting and sustainable impacts in targeted locations beyond our country.

Why is this strategic direction important now?

The importance of this strategic direction is grounded in the Scriptures: Jesus said, "As you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me" (Matthew 25) and "Go into all the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28). We want to provide food, shelter, health care and education for some of the world's neediest people. It also is imperative that we discover ways to do this using sustainable models, empowering the citizens in these settings and calling forth their gifts. Several by-products of this strategic direction will emerge:

  • It is transformational for our own community
  • It engages our youth and young adults in meaningful faith development and starts an involvement in mission work
  • It establishes important ministry opportunities for college students
  • It attracts new people to our mission, particularly young adults outside our congregation
  • It leverages the talents and professional skills of our members
  • It is an important aspect of our Methodist tradition

 

How does this strategic direction relate to our core strengths?

We already have a very strong commitment in our church to this work and can build on the strength of the tradition; three generations of work in Haiti are now in place: the Medical Mission; the School of Mercy; and the micro credit program. The Haiti Mission is the single longest and continuous Volunteer-In-Mission endeavor in the United Methodist Church and is a model for other congregations. At least five young adults in our congregation are now involved in global missionary service, and we anticipate that others will follow them. In addition, we have begun to attract members whose country of origin (most significantly, Liberia) yields the possibility of missionary relationships.

Relationship to the Five Practices: Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Extravagant Generosity

Our partners in fulfilling this strategic direction: The Haiti Mission; Jamie and Holle Wollin; Dan and Courtney Randall; The Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; and the New Hope for Haiti (www.nh4h.org).

CONCLUSION:

The SPT offers "Providence United Methodist Church 2015: A Strategic Vision" and asks for the church's continued support and prayers to:

  • Guide our staff and lay leadership to remain focused on doing the things that God would lead us to do.
  • Guide our design teams in the further definition of how we will execute these seven strategic directions.
  • Guide our congregation to dedicate its energies to the efforts to grow our church by building upon our core strengths.

 

Strategic Planning Team Members, 2009:
Michele Fisher, Chair, Christian Bohmfalk, Jim Bolt, Al Brown, Clidell Conston, Jack Entwistle, Crowder Falls, Micki Fisher, Walter Fisher, John Fletcher, Cynthia Flynn, Lori Fuqua, Sue Gorman, Denny Hammack, Bob James, Dave Mauney, David Parr, Ellen Patterson, Julie Peach, Nancy Pugh, Meredith Ritchie, Margaret Smith, Jim Spears, Annette Webb, Jean Willis, Jim Wollin, Bob Worley                                                                                    

Staff – Bill Jeffries, Robin Furr, Adam Ward
Staff Advisor – Ken Carter, former senior minister
Staff Liaison – Carol Grinham

Consultants:
Rev. Janice Virtue, Former Associate Dean, Duke Divinity School
Rev. Gil Rendle, Texas Methodist Foundation
Bishop Robert Schnase, Missouri Area United Methodist Church
Dr. Michael Marsicano, Foundation for the Carolinas
Bishop Larry Goodpaster, Western North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church