I hope that by the time you begin to read this that you have already heard about our Convention’s recent support for measures that are intended to enhance and grow our denomination. There is sufficient data that supports the notion that we do not need to postpone the implementation of a plan to expand the influence of the Original Free Will Baptist church. Since our break away from the National Association our membership level is essentially unchanged. Over that same period of time the population of our state has more than doubled.
Strategic planning is not a foreign or novel concept. We all do it on a regular basis. It is simply the act of choosing a course of action. If you have children you have or will aid in their plans for college, or marriage, or any of the other important events that are a part of their life. Building or buying a new home or car requires planning. Retirement requires planning. Even the act of writing your last will and testament is part of a strategic plan. We can see the value of a strategic plan by studying the scriptures. First the Garden of Eden, later a Tabernacle in the wilderness, later still a temple, then the ultimate – a cross and a resurrection. What a plan!
The task force has been working diligently to facilitate a method to begin the process that will lead to a strategic plan. At this point we have scheduled several meetings at various locations to garner the thoughts of our membership regarding the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) that currently exist. This information will be gathered primarily from our “pew” for the purpose of initiating a strategic plan that will allow our denomination to not just remain, but to remain as a more vibrant and growing force for the kingdom. The meetings are “pew-based” in the sense that we are seeking mass input of our lay people [as well as our professional leaders]. The task force is comprised of lay people. That being said, ministers must be a part of this process. This process will take all of us giving all we can. Meetings are being planned in each conference by the conference representative on the SPTF.
The meetings will be structured as follows:
• Individual assessments will be completed by all respondents, clergy and lay persons.
• Individual assessments will be collected and small groups will be formed in break-out sessions. Segregation into small break-out groups will place all ministers together, all youth together and non-clergy adults by age groups.
• Each small group will discuss the assessment with the intent of reaching a corporate assessment that represents the group.
• The task force is currently considering the age group definitions.
• Following the break-out session, all groups will come together again, and the spokesperson for each group will report its corporate assessment.
Governance for the meetings has not been finalized.
Please know that we have no agenda other than to assist with a strategic plan for the growth of our denomination. We are not about trying to influence any policies of the Convention, any conference, any church, any ministry, any minister, or group. That being said, if the process deems the will of its members necessitates change then some policies may be revised. That would constitute a result of the people, not the intent of the SPTF.
A review of our membership numbers from 1964 (29,447) to 2011 (29,156) indicates no growth. North Carolina’s population according to census records in 1960 was 4,556,155. 2010 census records indicate our state’s population to be 9,535,483. Statistically we have remained flat while our state has grown by more than 100%. According to the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management the projected population of our state in 2034 is placed at 11,979,767.
Our denomination is diverse in the fact that we have pockets of a conservative mindset, pockets of a liberal mindset, and pockets somewhere in between. Nothing in the work of the SPTF seeks to change that.
• Is it fair to say that our numbers represent similar successes and failures regardless of our mindset?
• Is it fair to say that the implementation of a strategic plan in 1990 could have yielded us greater impact today?
• Is it fair to suggest that the implementation of a strategic plan going forward can provide those who follow us with a road map to greater success than they will realize in the absence of such a plan?
Your involvement with this process is essential to the implementation of a viable strategic plan. Currently your assistance is needed most to support the creation of the SPTF and encourage your congregation to engage the process. We hope to build a substantial mailing list, but that will not ensure that you will receive our correspondence. Talk it up with your congregation. Let them know the benefits of strategic planning. Find the positives in this effort. Include your youth. Exercise your position as a member of the “pew” to encourage those with whom you fellowship to participate in one of the meetings.