Discernment Process

fpc goals: 2019-2023

adopted by the session august 10, 2019 

•    We will become a more Christ-centered congregation and strive to become more welcoming and open. 
•    Cultivate multi-generational participation in all areas of congregational life.
•    The congregation, staff, session and ministry teams will focus on evangelism and church growth. 
•    Preserve and leverage the worship traditions and music resources to enrich our congregation and community.
•    The Church will embrace an ethos of transparency that fosters open lines of communication and respect for differing views throughout the congregation.  

updated goals

After a Session retreat, two whole-congregation events, a slew of home meetings, much work and lots of prayer, we have generated between 25 and 30 possible goals for FPC to pursue over the next few years! You can read the goals here. The next step will be a Session retreat to prayerfully consider all these possibilities and choose one to three to be the focus of our congregational life in the future. 

Norms We Identified

A big crowd of FPC members turned out March 31 to eat dinner and discover our congregation's norms, the unwritten rules that govern our life together. We discussed what's the norm for our church in everything from worship and expectations for our children and youth, to how our money and conflicts are managed. Below is a list of norms ranked in order of how many votes they got for being important to the life of our church. Some are good, others are areas for improvement:


  1. Conflict Avoidance: an inability to deal with individuals and problems (40 votes)


  2. Inclusiveness: talked about but not complete (25 votes)


  3. New members: they will come (24 votes)


  4. New members: we'd like them to be like us (19 votes)


  5. Politics and social issues are taboo (16 votes)


  6. Mission is the 2nd highest spending priority (10 votes)


  7. Under-utilized space (8 votes)


  8. Burnout happens (5 votes)


  9. People are expected to give 10% or increase pledges toward that goal (5 votes) 


  10. Worship in the sanctuary is more attuned to adults (4 votes)


  11. New members are expected to do as we do (sit and stay) (4 votes)


  12. Different norms for different worship services (3 votes)


  13. Clergy and staff are addressed by their first names (2 votes)


  14. All positions open to either gender (2 votes)


  15. Family members of clergy and staff are not expected to be active (2 votes)


  16.  Teams (committees) manage the money (1 vote)


  17. Personnel/Building upkeep is the top spending priority (1 vote)

18.

       Ramsey Center worship more welcoming of youth (1 vote)

Now the Planning and Evaluation Team will reflect on these norms, and propose tentative congregational goals based on them to the Session. Please keep this goal-setting and discernment process in your prayers!

Get Ready to Identify some norms!

What are congregational Norms? They're the unwritten rules that we live by at First Presbyterian Church. On March 31 at 6:00 PM, we're going to get together and put on the table those things that are usually "under the table," the standards, for good or for ill, that govern our life together. RSVP to Nancy in the church office at (573) 442-1164, or email her at office@fpccolumbia.org. For more info about what norms are and what to expect on the 31st, click here to read this short explanation

March, 2019: Home meeting feedback

Nearly 90 First Presbyterian members attended one of our February home meetings. Thank you for your participation! Click here to read a summary of the meetings and to read about tentative goals coming out of these meetings that the Planning and Evaluation Team will propose for the Session's consideration.

FEbruary home meetings

Sign up here to participate in one of our home meetings in February! These 90 minute meetings of groups of 12 are for prayerfully discussing our hopes an dreams for FPC's future. The meeting facilitators will summarize your conversations in a report to the Planning and Evaluation Team. They, in turn, will generate tentative goals and objectives for FPC based on your conversations for the Session to consider in late spring.
Sign up here: http://bit.ly/2FLS1Ef

January, 2019 annual Meeting

On Sunday, January 27th members of our congregation gathered for an evening of historical reflection. During the meeting we filled in a timeline showing the historical events of our church. We started in present day, and went back as far as we could remember, and then told stories that we had heard of the times before that. After this reflection, members gathered in groups ponder our past and come up with three meaning statements. These statements were posted on the wall and voted upon, as a way to discern what from our past means the most to us. A full report from the meeting, as well as the meaning statements, can be found here.

October, 2018 Session retreat

The first step in our discernment process was taken in October, 2018 when the Session and the Planning and Evaluation Team ate dinner together on a Friday evening and met the next morning at the Woodhaven offices in Columbia. Prior to these gatherings, elders had taken an inventory to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the congregation. Much of the retreat focused on processing the results of that inventory. You can see the results here.

The Session also studied how congregations function differently based on their respective sizes, and how moving through tipping points from one size to the other can create tension. Finally, the Session discussed the concept of polarities. As opposed to problems, which can be solved, or conflicts, which can be resolved, polarities can only be managed. The Session reflected on some perennial polarities in congregational life and how to avoid treating polarities as problems or conflicts. You can see the presentation on size theory and polarities here.

Complete schedule of events

October 2018

Session Retreat

  • Assess congregation's health.

  • Learn how congregations of different sizes behave differently.

discerning our congregation's future: an overview

            “For surely I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). God has a plan for First Presbyterian Church! It is both exciting and comforting to know that our future is in God’s hands. But how do we discover what God’s plan is for First Presbyterian Church?

            Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to them once he ascended into heaven. The Spirit would them into the truth (John 16:12). The coming of the Spirit fulfilled an ancient prophecy—that God would pour out the Spirit “on all flesh” (Acts 2:16–17, Joel 2:28). The point is that God’s plans for the future can only be discerned when the collective wisdom of the entire congregation is brought to the table, prayed over, and sifted through.

            In 2018 and 2019 our Session and our Planning and Evaluation Team are leading the whole congregation in a process of discerning God’s vision for our future. A variety of large group, small group, and individual events will take place. The Planning and Evaluation Team will assess the data generated by each event and based on that data, will draft tentative goals and objectives for the congregation’s future. At the end of the process, the Session will review the draft goals and objectives and prayerfully select the ones it believes God is calling us to achieve. Throughout this process the Session will be interviewing people in and around our community to identify the greatest needs of Columbia and Boone County.

            Why do we need to engage in this process? The first reason is that it’s going to be fun! You will appreciate getting together to eat, tell stories about our history, listen to each other’s hopes and dreams for the future, laugh at our foibles, and give thanks for God’s grace. Second, we should consult God our North Star and compass, and sail in the direction God has charted for us, rather than drift and possibly run aground. Finally, the process is sound. We are being relying on a book by two church consultants, Roy Oswald and Robert Friedrich, titled Discerning Your Congregation’s Future. The book outlines a process that employs some strategic planning techniques you may have used in your workplace, but weaves them together with intentional times for prayer and other spiritual disciplines. We hope that, once this process is complete, we can fill in the blanks in this sentence, taken from Acts 15:28: “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us that First Presbyterian Church _____, _____, and ______.”

(573) 442-1164

Office Hours M-F 9:00-4:30

16 Hitt Street
Columbia, MO 65201

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©2017 by First Presbyterian Church.