February 10-12, 2017
We, the Healthy Church Initiative Consultation team, would like to thank Rev. Chris Everson, staff, lay leadership, and the congregation of First United Methodist Church Royse City for the invitation to consult with this body of Christ. The following observations and prescriptions are the result of this team studying the following information: a) FUMC’s self-study document provided by its leaders, b) completion of the on-line congregational survey by the church members, c) interviews with the staff and leaders, d) input from focus groups, e) a MissionInsite demographic report of the area’s population, f) input from the Faith Perceptions Mystery Guest Worshipper Report, and g) input from the Saturday workshop.
Our prayer is that God will use this assessment experience and consultation report in order to help FUMC Royse City more effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the community and the world.
According to what you have told us, FUMC Royse City’s greatest areas of strength are as follows:
- Renewed EnergyThe consultation team continually picked up on a renewed energy and sense of optimism from the congregation. We heard repeatedly that the church is ready for a new direction and that the congregation is “poised for growth.” There is an eagerness to move forward and reach the full potential of FUMC Royse City. The church is blessed to be in an area experiencing rapid growth and appears to be motivated to embrace a bright future.
Through the self-study, interviews, and workshop, the consultation team heard you tell us that the people are “the best thing about this church”, and it is a “nurturing place” and a “strong congregation that feels like family.” The FUMC Royse City family was described as a “faithful” and “prayerful” congregation with a deep sense of history in this community.
- Committed CoreThe consultation team consistently heard from interviews, focus group discussions, and the congregational survey that FUMC Royse City is blessed with a committed core group of laity that have persevered through times of changes and challenges. We also heard that many individuals are eager to move forward and help the church live into all the possibilities that lie ahead.
- Pastoral Leadership
The consultation team rapidly recognized the excitement of the people of FUMC Royse City regarding the recent appointment of Rev. Chris Everson as pastor. The interviews and input from the staff and laity affirmed Pastor Chris’ leadership. He was described by many as having a “good heart,” and being a “self-assured”, and “calm servant-leader” that can lead this church forward into the years to come.
- Mission-Minded Congregation
The self-study, interviews, and workshop revealed to the consultation team FUMC Royse City’s desire to be in mission and reach out to its community. The Our Daily Bread food pantry ministry was repeatedly lifted up by the congregation as a “highlight ministry” of FUMC Royse City.
Through the dedicated efforts of many in the congregation, and a growing connection with other area church and civic organizations, Our Daily Bread is not only meeting a great physical need, it also provides a unique opportunity to for the church to interact with its neighbors. The consultation team also heard positive feedback about community outreach efforts such as JAM, and Scouts.
According to what you have told us, FUMC Royse City is poised to build on its rich 100+ year history, and live into its full potential. Even so, the congregation expressed the following areas of concern:
- Unifying Vision & Direction
During our interviews and review of self-study materials, the consultation team did not hear a clear sense of a realized and unifying vision for the congregation, although many expressed a desire to have a strong and strategic focus. The lack of vision focus seems to have hampered the congregation’s ability to align resources for ministries, budgets, and staffing around a cohesive and action-oriented purpose.
- Reaching a Growing Mission Field and Community Connections
The consultation team heard you express a clear concern and a deep desire to reach younger people – younger adults, and families with youth and children. The MissionInsite data provided by your self- study materials show the tremendous growth that has already taken place in and around the Royse City area as well as the growth that is still to come. However, our interviews and review of materials did not reveal specific plans or strategies in place for the church to reach and effectively be in ministry with the new and younger people in the community that the congregation seeks to reach.
While a few strong ministry efforts such as Our Daily Bread, JAM and Scouts were mentioned, there was no evidence of a specific existing process for cultivating ongoing relationships within the community, connecting people back to the church, and increasing the community’s awareness of the church and its ministries.
- Radical Hospitality
Extending radical hospitality involves doing everything possible to anticipate the needs of, and then extend welcome to guests. While the consultation team affirms the basic friendliness of the congregation, as do many comments from the Mystery Guest Worshiper Report, input from the workshop and some mystery guests’ comments also show a need for an intentional, consistent process for guest welcome, hospitality, and follow-up. This need was reflected by a guest worshiper who said, “I went (to the church) with a positive attitude and excited about feeling welcomed into a new church. I left feeling unwanted, uninvited, and unwelcome”, and by another who commented, “I was not greeted by anyone, although there were dozens of people inside the building.”
From our interviews, focus groups and review of provided materials, the consultation team has learned of the congregation’s concern about needed improvements of all existing facilities (interior and exterior of all buildings, signage, parking, walkways, etc), while maintaining the integrity of a historic sanctuary and also meeting the needs of a growing mission field. The consultation team affirms the initial steps that have been taken by Trustees, Finance, and the Church Council to begin addressing needed repairs and renovations of existing church facilities.
- Intentional Faith & Leadership DevelopmentFrom our interviews we heard the congregation express a desire to strengthen and expand children’s and youth ministries at FUMC Royse City, as well as opportunities for spiritual growth for adults.
However, there does not seem to be an intentional discipleship plan in place by which individuals of all ages and stages of spiritual maturity can be intentionally welcomed, then connected effectively into the life and mission of the church and grow in their faith.
We also heard repeated comments that there seems to be no intentional process for identifying, equipping, motivating, and deploying new and existing members into servant-leadership positions. The team has observed that many church leaders have faithfully served in the same position or in multiple positions for years. Comments were also made that a more streamlined leadership structure would be beneficial to the church.
Service of Prayer and Preparation
Upon acceptance of this report, the congregation will schedule a service of prayer and preparation to center the congregation on the work God is calling the church to do. This will be coordinated by the Coach and Pastor, Rev. Chris Everson, on March 19, 2017.
The self-study materials provided to the consultation team, as well as some of our interviews with lay leaders revealed a degree of anxiety in the congregation concerning finances as evidenced by comments such as, “our finances are almost adequate” and “we are financially underperforming.” Further review of current financial records and leadership interviews reveal that although the church will face costs of needed facility improvements, the church is in a good financial position to cover current budget needs. Results of the recent financial stewardship campaign shows a willingness on that part of the congregation to underwrite the basic operating budget of the church for this year. Additional monies will be needed to cover necessary repair and improvements for facilities. It is the view of the consultation team that focusing on the following five prescriptions will have an improved impact on the church’s overall financial picture.
- Unifying Vision & Direction
On the day this consultation report is accepted, the congregation will affirm and take as its own the mission statement of the United Methodist Church, “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This includes current members and their need for ongoing growth and discipleship, while also focusing on reaching new people as they begin their faith journey. Every ministry of the church needs to have as its primary purpose “making disciples.”
The coach, in consultation with the Pastor, will select a Vision Team of 4-7 members, and will conduct a Visioning Workshop for the team and extended leadership no later than May 30, 2017.
The Vision Team will be charged with creating a vision assessment tool no later than June 15, 2017 that will ensure a unifying vision to provide accountability for the congregation to pursue its mission to make disciples, and align all ministries and resources around a common purpose.
- Reaching a Growing Mission Field & Community Connection Attracting younger people into the life of an older congregation is challenging and requires an ongoing, intentional, long-term commitment on the part of the entire church. In order to continuously develop inspiring, engaging, and relevant ministries with children, youth, and young families, the Pastor in consultation with the Coach, will work with existing staff and Church Council to create a Connections Team. This team will develop a strategic plan for reaching and engaging younger generations by:
- Assessing the needs of younger people and families in the surrounding community, and identify current gaps in ministry offerings at the church including worship times, small groups, etc.
- Visiting at least three other churches in the area with effective family, youth, and children ministries to stimulate new ideas.
- Developing a plan of action with goals and dates to determine how current and improved facilities can best be utilized to reach and connect with younger generations.
- Working with local school and city leaders to build relationships with the growing community.
The Pastor, in consultation with the Coach and the existing Mission Committee will also explore more effective ways to engage and interact with those who are being reached though existing and future community outreach ministries.
The consultation team recommends the book, Get Their Name, by Bob Farr and Kay Kotan as a resource for this work. The Mission and Connections teams will develop and implement the strategies by August 15, 2017.
- Radical Hospitality
The Pastor in consultation with the Coach, will name a Hospitality Team and will provide a Hospitality Workshop by March 19, 2017 at 12:30-2:00pm for the team and the extended leadership of the church. In order to create a culture of ‘radical hospitality’ at FUMC Royse City, this team will use as a resource the Mystery Guest Worshiper Report and the book, “Clip In,” by Jim Ozier. The team will also work with the Pastor and Coach to:
- Develop a comprehensive welcoming system that recruits, trains, and evaluates greeters at all entrances to the church building on Sunday mornings and major events held at the church.
- Develop Welcome Packets or other materials to offer first-time guests.
- Tour the current facilities, viewing all areas through the lens of a first-time guest family with
- Review and update the church’s website and social media presence with information that is
relevant to the growing mission field.
This work will be completed by August 15, 2017.
The Coach, in consultation with the Pastor and Trustees, will utilize work that has already been started, and will also conduct a facility audit by May 30, 2017. This audit will consider how all areas of the building and property might be enhanced to help the church fulfill its mission and vision. This audit will include: the sanctuary, signage, parking, exterior entrances, interior sanctuary entrances, children and youth areas, fellowship areas, classrooms, and all other interior spaces. The purpose of these efforts will be to optimize the functionality of the existing facilities, and improve the overall feel of the space to make it more welcoming and “user friendly” to the community. This will help develop a prioritized list of all needed facilities improvements. The Mystery Guest Worshipper Report will be a helpful resource in this work.
Additionally, the Pastor, in consultation with the Coach, and Trustees, together with city leaders, will work to further develop a long-term plan for the church campus and surrounding property.
- Intentional Faith & Leadership Development
The Pastor, in consultation with the Coach, will name a 4-6 member Faith Development Team that includes a cross-section of the congregation. This team will develop a clear and simple process for growing new and seasoned Christians in their faith, and will also include a process for new families entering the church to get connected into the life of FUMC Royse City. This pathway will include a process for Children, Youth, and Adults. The team will use resources suggested by the Coach and will share its work with the Church Council by January 31, 2018 for implementation no later than March 1, 2018.
The Pastor, in consultation with the Coach and members of the current Nominating Committee and SPRC, will take responsibility for developing and implementing a strategy for intentional leadership development to include job descriptions, goal-setting, training, and accountability for all staff and key leadership roles. This plan will be developed and presented to the Church Council for implementation before Charge Conference 2017. This work will include examining the leadership structure of the church, and exploring the possibility of a simplified church structure which frees people from just attending meetings to becoming more engaged in ministry.
Any proposal for restructuring will be presented for approval at Charge Conference 2017 and implemented during 2018.
– Dr. Justin Tull, Coach – Jay Putnam, Consultant
– Dr. Gloria Fowler – Serena Eckert, Consultant/Scribe
Jana Hebron, Mary Ellis, Anna and Gary Evers, Ben and JJ Hughes, Dean and Lori Gilkinson, Tracy Everson, Glenda Arnold, Pete and Sandy Grubb, Jim and Jo Nell Mellody, Jason and April Payne, Tom and Wanda Pille, Charlie and Debbie Carroll