A Vision Team Progress Report · Heritage UMC

A Vision Team Progress Report

Thursday, June 27 2019 by Matt Horan

In 2016, a Vision Team was nominated to begin working with a consulting firm called Spiritual Leadership Incorporated (SLI).  It consisted of lay and staff leaders, and they have been hard at work ever since studying, researching, praying, discussing, refining, and clarifying the mission and vision, values, and strategy of Heritage United Methodist Church.  The hope was that this work could address years of declining attendance, financial generosity, and community impact; and prepare Heritage to adjust to some new realities inside and outside the church by redesigning the ways we work together.

Some members have left the team, and others have come on since it started, as is the case with any multi-year project.  Your current Vision Team is: Brian Bradley, Cynthia Weclew, Dan Mullett, Eric Barnes, Eric Johnson (staff), Jake Authier (staff), Matt Horan (staff), Mike Meistrell, Rick Clemens, and Stacy Son.

It has been very, very hard work.  There was lots of reading to do about leadership and organizational culture, which provided a number of theories and possibilities that could be considered and tried at Heritage.  There were debates, collaborations, agreements, and disagreements, because everyone on the team is a passionate believer in the future possibilities of our church.

There have been some important steps–some clarifying and refining existing ideas and structures, while others introduced things that were entirely new, and would take some getting used to.  I was so thankful for the work this team has done with SLI, and that they have continued to do now that the contract with SLI has come to an end.  For example, surely you are familiar with our mission:

Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

You may also have heard our vision:

We invite everyone into a life-changing relationship with Jesus by providing a place to belong, grow, and make a difference.

For my first several months, the Vision Team wrestled with a few key questions.

  1. How can we create a culture of continuous improvement at Heritage?
  2. How can we work together in high-functioning teams, and breathe new life into the dreaded “church committee meeting.”
  3. What will success look like when we accomplish “transformation of the world”?  Where will we focus our efforts?

For question 1, we have implemented a system by which every special and ongoing event has a “Ministry Action Plan,” (MAP) detailing the reasons why this project or event is the best way to accomplish our mission, and explains the plan, and names the leadership team that will execute the plan.  Further, we’re implementing the “RAD” (Reflect, Adjust, Do) process after every event and project to record observations and ideas for improvement while the memories are still fresh.

On question 2, now create the agenda for every meeting using the “Loving, Learning, Leading” format.  We start with a time to intentionally love the other members of our groups or teams by sharing testimonies, celebrations, struggles, and prayer requests.  Next, we have a time of learning together, in which the team might be reading a book together, or discuss some content brought by a team member to teach us all something new.  Finally, the leading part of the gathering focuses on doing the work of the team together.  This essentially creates a team that is half church committee and half small-group, so that while serving as a part of the team, we also grow closer to God and to each other while on a growth journey together.

The work of question 3 is currently before us.  The last two Administrative Council (AC) meetings, a recent AC follow up group meeting, recent staff meetings, and the vision team meetings of the last couple months have proceeded in the faith that our congregation’s season of prayer, fasting, and listening during Lent connected our congregation more deeply to the Lord, and opened us to hearing what the next season of ministry at Heritage will look like.

Administrative Council meetings have been hard work, with the council breaking up into groups to compare thoughts and opinions and what they’ve been hearing in prayer.  This past Monday night, we got into groups and worked on answering three questions:

  1. Who are we? (Seeking descriptors of our church.)
  2. Who are our neighbors?  (Based on our own observations and the Mission Insite Report which analyzes the population within 3.5 miles of our campus.)
  3. How could we best serve our neighbors?

The Vision Team will be taking this work, which was phenomenal, and adding it to content from previous meetings in order to begin to narrow our focus and define the ministry priorities for Heritage in 2020 and beyond.  They will bring a first draft to the next administrative council meeting on August 26th for a focus group session, and get feedback to further refine them.  (We may seek some additional small groups who would be willing to serve as focus groups as well.)  A second draft will be brought on October 28th for some final review and discussion of how they could be rolled out.  They will then be voted on at our 2019 Charge Conference in early November.  Then it will be time to get to work on transforming the world in the ways God has called us!

Stay tuned for future updates.  Exciting times are ahead!


Matt Horan
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who is Heritage?

Heritage is a United Methodist Church in Clearwater, FL with the goal of loving those around us, equipping leaders with roles that require their unique abilities, and inviting everyone into a life changing relationship with Jesus.

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