Council Retreat – Looking Forward

Council Retreat – Looking Forward

Last weekend (Saturday, January 25th) Church Council participated in a small council retreat with Pastor Ben and Aaron Patriquin (our church administrator). Typically, council meets monthly (usually the third Thursday of the month) to conduct the “regular” business of the church. Occasionally “special” meetings are called when a sensitive or urgent issue arises. Especially over the past few years, I think it’s fair to say that council has been called upon to make tough decisions, manage conflict and react to a constantly shifting landscape. Given that council members are a group of mere human volunteers with fairly time consuming and weighty responsibility, dreaming, vision casting, and goal setting has been a luxury of time and attention we haven’t felt we could much afford – until now.

After a long season of transition, we at last feel positioned to rebuild. As church members and council members, we are prayerfully considering what God would have us do in the next chapter of God’s great story wherein Effort is a most interesting character actor! Through the hospitality of Gayton Baptist church in Richmond, we got off campus for a fresh perspective and space to dream about the future of Effort. We talked a little history, a little culture (within and outside of the church), a little theology. We did a “SWOT” analysis which is a just a way of looking at our strengths, our weaknesses, our opportunities and our threats. We focused primarily on our strengths and opportunities as we set some basic 6 month goals. After much dialog, we identified 6 areas with specific goals that we could work on to move us in the direction of God’s plan for restoration and renewal – again, within and outside of our church.

1) Focus on the quality of the worship experience. Hiring a strong worship arts minister with the talent, vision, energy and love to minister to our body of believers was the first step towards this goal. We expect this to have a positive impact on both attendance and morale. (If this past Sunday is any indicator, I think we’re well on our way!)

2) Repair “foundational” systems and processes of the church including:

– Consistent greeter experience

– Improve communication/promotion of church programming and events

– New member process and integration into church family

– Develop consistent visitor experience

– Develop process for receiving feedback from body

– Clarify mortgage repayment plan – PRAY!

3) Clarify identity, mission, and values for this new season.

– Research options

– Provide opportunity for congregational investment

– Hold one congregational meeting prior to next council retreat (June)

4) Increase local mission engagement

– Every current Bible study/small group will perform some local mission service once a month

5) Cultivate unity & fellowship within the body

– Monthly unity event (could be dinner, pot-luck lunch, etc) involving 9:30 and 11:00

– Council to dialogue more about fellowship opportunities at the regularly scheduled Feb. meeting

6) Develop discipleship culture among leadership

– Staff meet bi-weekly

– Council – monthly, before the reg. scheduled council meetings

– Leadership – TBD

You might look at this list as a sort of back to basics approach – strengthening the foundation, communicating a clear vision and common goals, and focusing on excellence in every effort. We view this as a launch pad towards bigger and better things to come. It’s time for us to get back to the business of steering the ship, rather than just bailing water, and we welcome your input. You can send an email to, you can attend the next meeting of council scheduled for 2/20/14, or just grab Pastor Ben or a council member at church some Sunday for a little conversation. We are excited to take this journey with you!

Your Church Council:

Jeff Stribling, Chair

Larry Cormier

Ed Drake

Molly Fulton

Laurie Brock

Sims Wright