Four Pillars

The Strategic Plan: Building up the Church

A Task Force appointed by Bishop Reed has considered the current and future needs of the Diocese and developed a Strategic Plan under four “pillars.” These are intended to encourage renewal in existing congregations, the nurture of immigrant congregations, the establishment of new churches where God’s calling is discerned, and the formation of leaders and disciples in the next generation.

View and download a three-page summary (PDF) of the Plan.

 


The pillars and their leaders are:

Church Revitalization

Church Planting

Immigrant Congregations

Next Generation

Fr. Andrew Petta Fr. Lee Nelson Fr. John Kalimi
Fr. Salvador Ordonez
Catherine Marshall
Dillon Craig

Church Revitalization

Church revitalization is an intentional work of assessing a congregation in order to advance its faithfulness to the Great Commission as guided by the Holy Spirit. Each and every church will need revitalization at different points in its history. Sadly, however, churches often don’t recognize the need until it becomes evident. Declines in giving, attendance, and facilities get our attention and may create an urgency for the task. Yet, decline doesn’t have to be the catalyst for a church to engage in the work of revitalization.

Whatever the age of a church when revitalization is undertaken, it requires courage, commitment, and most of all submission to God’s will. We mustn’t forget that it is God’s work (see Mark 4:26-29; 1 Cor 3:5-9). What we bring is a zeal, commitment and faithfulness to seek His will and ways for our lives and our churches as we listen to and obey His promptings.

We should be clear that the goal of revitalization is not greater numbers and metrics, but greater faithfulness to Jesus. Revitalization is complex, and there are no silver bullets or quick fixes. It requires courage and involves time to look objectively at every area of the church. Fortitude is needed to confront loss as we let go of what no longer bears fruit, and commitment is required for taking on such new efforts. We need to find ways to continue expanding the Kingdom of God in our generations with the changeless message of Jesus Christ amidst an ever-changing culture.

Revitalization can bring conflict as a natural byproduct when clergy and lay leaders navigate changes and losses, as all submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit to further the mission of the Church. It requires ownership by Rectors/Vicars, Vestries/Bishop’s Committees, and each parishioner to seek with the Lord’s will for each church. Simply put, it demands nothing less than our all, which is Jesus’ call upon each of our lives as His followers (Matt 22:37-40). We hear and are reminded of this call each time we gather in worship.

Church revitalization is not easy, but the rewards are great — not only in eternity, but on this side of the veil, as members utilize gifts and talents and find fulfillment in their lives. It is invigorating to see new souls come to faith in Jesus Christ and new leaders emerge. Groups and committees find new purpose as new faces join their ranks. The excitement is electric when the church rallies behind a God given initiative in the community. Stories of “glory days” gone by give way to a buzz about the present work God is doing when churches move from maintenance to mission.

The diocesan revitalization team, which consists of seven adept clergy and lay leaders from across the diocese, will serve under Bishop Reed to assist toward this end. We will provide assessment tools, coaching, parish workshops and conferences to address topics pertinent to each church (i.e., evangelization, giving, discipleship, mission, etc.). We will be a ready resource of best practices to connect you with leaders, coaches and consultants and a place to turn for help, encouragement and an outside perspective.

The revitalization team will meet initially in September to undertake this work. We plan to communicate regularly on pertinent topics that apply to your church with the hope of supporting you in the work of revitalization. We will begin to plan conferences, workshops, and meetings around the diocese to maintain active, open dialogue. We hope to garner some best practices as we meet and listen to you and celebrate the ways God is working in our diocese.

We have a mission to fulfill and a message to proclaim, which is the only hope that is unchanging in the ever changing and fleeting promises of the world. As we pray at every baptism, the Church remains the vessel, the ark, that will see us through this life. We will pray and partner with you to help the Church do what She alone can do — namely, bring the message of Jesus Christ into the world and invite each soul to find life as it was intended by walking in His will and ways.


Church Planting

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. (1 Cor. 14:12 ESV)

Saint Paul makes this point very clearly: that excellence in building up the Church is the necessary pretext for the manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit. One of the most effective modes of excellence in building up the Church is the work of church planting: the gathering, discipling, and forming of new congregations to take on the work of ministry in new places and contexts.

Excellence in church planting is a goal that is not only achievable for our diocese, but one in which we have already had considerable success, with the planting of Saint Barnabas in Keller, Saint Philip the Apostle in Arlington, Christ the Redeemer in Fort Worth, and Christ Church in Waco. We are achieving excellence in newer starts in College Station and Abilene. To see greater numbers of new congregations, future planting leaders must be formed, assessed, and coached. These forms of discernment ensure that future investments in new congregations will be made with focused and responsible stewardship of resources, while at the same time, allowing for calculated risks with enormous upside.

We must be reminded that there are literally millions of people in our region who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or who are not in the sphere of a congregation with the capacity to evangelize, catechize, and mature them. The planting of healthy and sustainable parishes is an essential part of our strategic plan to build up the Church and lead all people to maturity, “to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13) We are convinced and convicted of the urgency of this mission.

What does this require? It requires a culture change in the way we think about church planting. Dioceses that are successful in this work see the work of planting as the work of the whole diocese: a work of forming new leaders, building sustainable models of financial and pastoral support, encouraging creativity, and ongoing ways of encouraging leaders in this critically important work. This takes a culture of collaboration, learning, and risk-taking.

Finally, this takes systems of accountability, oversight, and funding that will lead to the ever-greater multiplication of parishes with the ability to reach ever deeper into the mission field. This will require openness and receptivity to planting new congregations even in places where we already have existing congregations for the sake of reaching previously unreached ethnic and cultural groups, including suburb-dwellers, immigrant people groups, university students, and those on the margins of society.


 

Immigrant Congregations

I was hungry and you fed me, I was a stranger and you welcomed me ... that which you did to the least of mine you did to me. (Matthew 25.31ff)

While politicians often perceive immigrants as invaders, the Church has always thrived on welcoming strangers. In Old Testament biblical history, the Israelites mourned whenever they met mistreatment and celebrated those who welcomed them warmly. Jesus himself demonstrated the believer’s responsibility towards strangers and the homeless, putting himself on line as the face of those in need or suffering. Bishop Reed asks us to see the face of Christ in the less privileged and welcome them. It is an obligation for all Christians to welcome newcomers; barring them would be barring Christ himself.

The Bishop has asked two of us – Fr. Ordoñez and Fr. Kalimi – to spearhead this campaign of reaching out to immigrants, particularly those from Africa and Latin America. Though we may tailor our responses in a variety of ways, we are united by the love of Christ and a passion to bring more people to know him through the Anglican tradition.

The majority of immigrants who flock to this country do for the blessings of peace and opportunity. Given the turmoil that unfortunately prevails in most parts of the world, the United States stands out as a place where the rule of law is adhered to despite some flaws. Simply put, the light of tranquility (peace) of the United States shines brightly into the dark parts of the world, so that those who live in darkness are drawn towards it.

As part of our response, we plan to be intentional in looking out and seeking those strangers – especially those who wish to be part of the American dream – hard workers and law abiding, members of our community.

Most Africans coming to this country are professing Christians – often Anglicans – seekning a welcoming church where they can be part of that church family. The majority who stay often work and live in the same neighborhoods as their fellow college mates. Under the Strategic Plan, it is the desire of the Bishop that our churches intentionally invite them in – well assured that ours is exactly the same Anglican Church they left in their home country.

Fr. John Kalimi


I thank God that through the vision of Bishop Reed we have the opportunity to work on this multicultural ministry. It is a pleasure to share with you some points about what Fr. Kalimi and I have already discovered while praying and working (ora et labora) together.


> Just as the Anglican tradition unites Anglo Catholics and Anglo Evangelicals (low church and high church) in one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Eph. 4:5), in the beauty of diversity we can have a Church where God is Worshiped in different traditions and languages.

> The Apostle Paul does not want Gentiles to live as Jews. Paul evangelizes the Jew and the Gentile by making known to them the good news of God in Christ. The Church should not seek to deculture; the Church carries the message of Jesus Christ using the language and cultural attributes of those she seeks to evangelize; this helps the Church in her evangelizing mission. (Matt. 28:19)

> We look for a day not too far away when we can have more multicultural communities where Pentecost is literally every Sunday.


Fr. Salvador Ordoñez


 

The Next Generation

Building up the body of Christ through the next generation is crucial for the life of our churches and diocese. We must establish goals and be intentional now. The future of our diocese and parishes relies on how we engage and minister to the next generation. Under the leadership of Bishop Reed much of this is already in motion but there is still work to do. We have broken our goals down into three categories.

The first category is Organization. One immediate goal in this category is to establish a ministry team to develop a model for next generation engagement. This team will include individuals from all over the diocese, lay and clergy, as well as individuals of all ages. Other immediate goals include establishing a youth leader network to share ideas, and to commit Diocesan funds to support next generation goals. Committing the diocesan budget to support next generation goals is an ongoing goal that is already under way with the vision to expand.

The next category is Training and Implementation. One goal we have is to develop a training program for new parish youth leaders. In order to accomplish this we would also like to look at youth and young adult programs outside our diocese. Looking at successful programs outside our diocese will give us a chance to identify ways to bring youth into our churches as well as help us develop age-specific youth programs. Lastly, we will utilize parish partnerships for churches with smaller youth programs. This can look like sharing youth leaders across small parishes, combining meetings with 2 or more small churches at a neutral spot, or deanery gatherings for all youth but particularly those who do not have youth programs at their home parish or small programs at their home parish.

The last category is Communication. Immediately, we plan to build a youth leader directory and database. We will do this by establishing a contact person from each parish to communicate about youth and young adult events. We also plan to continue utilizing social media as well as offer training on social media basics.

We feel passionately that the youth and young adult age group is the future of our diocese. When we look at our teens and young adult aged people now, in 10 years they will be the young families sitting in our churches. It is vital that we pour our resources of time, talent, and treasures into them so we can watch our Anglican church grow. In Matthew 28:18-20 Christ commands us to “go and make disciples.” Through the Next Generation Pillar our goals reflect our intention to do just that.