Good morning / evening! I’m Shane Herron, chair of the 29:11 planning team and I am so pleased to have this opportunity to bring you up to date on the work we’ve been doing.
I want to begin by introducing the other members of the team who are with us. Would those members of the team please stand when I read your name? Collectively, members of our team have put more than 300 hours into the planning process so far, researching, reviewing data and discussing. I sincerely appreciate their efforts and commitment – and I hope you will join me in thanking them for their work so far. (Applause.)
The 29:11 planning team was established by the Leadership Team. Our charge is to develop a 5-10 year plan to spells out the future direction for the ministries and campuses of both Bethany and Our Shepherd. When complete, the plan must also outline the timeline and resources needed to achieve and measure the goals.
Our team was also named by the Leadership Team – drawing from Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11. We’ve talked about this verse at some length – recognizing that our job is to lay out the plans THE LORD has for us. It’s fair to say we all found comfort and inspiration in this verse – it helped us recognize that our job is not to create the plans, but rather to find the plans THE LORD has for us.
To find that plan, we have spent a lot of time poring over information about our congregation. We’ve looked at the demographic make-up of Bethany, Our Shepherd and the Fox Valley. We’ve looked at Bethany and Our Shepherd budgets. We’ve looked at Bethany and Our Shepherd facilities. We’ve looked at the programs we offer both at Bethany and Our Shepherd. And, finally, we’ve looked at how Bethany and Our Shepherd are staffed.
Our goal – through this research phase – was to look at our congregation, our ministries and our community with fresh eyes. This has been very eye-opening. Over the course of the last several months, we’ve had literally dozens of a-ha! moments, more than 125 in all. What makes an a-ha! moment? Well, it’s the kind of observation that causes you to step back – something that we would not have realized about our church, our ministries or our communities, had we not been involved in this planning. We’re going to share about a dozen of these ‘a-ha!’ moments with you this morning. We hope that these insights will also help you as you take part in the Listening Session Discussion Circles next weekend.
One of the areas that we’ve looked at: the demographics of our community.
Bethany is very fortunate to be located in the Fox Cities. Population projections show this area has grown nearly 10% over the last 8 years.
And, while nearly 1 in 3 Americans is un-churched, that number is much lower in Wisconsin, where 16% of families are unchurched. That’s about 1 in 5 Wisconsinites who are un-churched. So, we have an opportunity to reach out and share the Gospel with them.
The 29:11 planning team has also taken a look at the make-up of the Bethany congregation…
Earlier, we told you how the Fox Cities is growing at a pretty good pace – about 10% over the last 8 years. During that same time, our congregation’s population has remained relatively flat. We haven’t lost a ton of members, but we haven’t grown either. In fact, between 2000 and 2008, our membership declined by about 8%.
We’ve also taken a look at where do our members live. To find out how large a geographic area Bethany is serving, we got some help from Jeff Hedtke, our congregation’s computer whiz. He plotted the addresses of congregation members onto a map, so we could see our service area. Here is what he found. (Jeff) After plotting all of the addresses, I showed this map to the team. As you can see, Bethany members come from many directions – and some travel many miles to get here. This runs counter to conventional wisdom that says people only attend church within two miles of their home. We must have something special going on here that makes being a member of Bethany worth the drive…!
The size of our congregation has decreased slightly, but we do have some very good news to share! Over the last several years, participation in Bible classes has increased by 68%.
So, after looking at the community’s demographics and Bethany’s demographics, we took a look at the demographics at Our Shepherd. Because some members of our team had never seen Our Shepherd, we met there for one of our meetings and got an up-close look at the facility.
We were surprised to see how dramatically enrollment has grown there – from 20 children who were served in 2001 to more than 120 children today. Pastor Henke put that in context – 120 families, or – roughly 400 souls when you count parents and siblings – that’s the size of a small congregation. When Our Shepherd opened, the goal was to serve 50 children and their families. Many of us were surprised to learn that Our Shepherd is actually at full capacity with 120 children – plus, there are 40 to 50 children on the waiting list! That’s 40 to 50 more families we could be serving.
We also asked Jeff to show us where the Our Shepherd families actually live. (Jeff) I did the same thing for Our Shepherd as I did for Bethany – plotted the addresses of the families we serve. As you can see, families drive from quite some distance to enroll their children at Our Shepherd. And, I’ve also created a map that shows where both the Bethany and Our Shepherd families live. You can see our congregation reaches families throughout the Fox Valley.
What else did we learn about Our Shepherd? One out of every five families at Our Shepherd families are un-churched. That’s 25% higher than the average in Wisconsin. While we do contact them and ask them if they are interested in being baptized, we don’t have sufficient staff to regularly connect with those families and encourage them to consider baptism or adult instruction. Of the 116 Our Shepherd families that are churched, only 20 families are Bethany members. When we started looking at this, we realized Our Shepherd has enough work for a full-time pastor right now.
In addition to looking at the demographics of our community, our congregation and Our Shepherd, our team has also taken a look at our budget. Here are a couple of ‘a-ha!’ moments from that work…
We usually think of Bethany and Our Shepherd separately… One of our ‘a-ha!’ moments was to look at the two organizations together – because we really are part of the same family. When we did that, we realized that our combined budgets are $1.1 million. Bethany’s budget is about 40% of that and Our Shepherd’s budget is about 60% of that.
Each year, Bethany pays $36,000 toward Our Shepherd’s mortgage debt. This contribution represents about 8% of Bethany’s budget and contributes about 4% to the Our Shepherd budget. Our Shepherd also invests money back into Bethany each year. Last year, Our Shepherd invested more than $29,000 into Bethany facility improvements, programs and projects.
Then, when we looked at those budgets together, we also saw that we are investing a lot in ministering to families with young children. In fact, nearly 69% of our budget is devoted to ministries for children under age 18. Clearly, our congregation thinks it is important to minister to children and teens.
By comparison, less than 1% of Bethany’s budget is devoted to local Outreach and Witness.
Next, we looked at what we can learn from our facilities.
The programs we run at both Bethany and Our Shepherd are so successful that we could not simply get rid of one building. We wouldn’t have room for Our Shepherd here at Bethany – and we wouldn’t have room at Our Shepherd for all that goes on here at Bethany. So, we need both facilities to continue to carry out our existing ministries.
Although we aren’t 100% full during services, we have enough attendance on Sundays to feel the pinch of limited space. During Sunday services, there isn’t space for a crying room or even another Sunday school class. It’s difficult to find space to hold program meetings too, and we’ve told you about the waiting list at Our Shepherd. The bottom line is, we’re nearing our capacity.
And, as you know, parking is one of our big challenges. We only have enough parking spaces to accommodate 35% of the church’s capacity. So, when both the parking lot and street are full, it may give visitors the impression that there is no room for them.
After taking a look at facilities, we also took a look at our programs.
We found Bethany offers more than 50 different programs. But, very few connect Bethany and Our Shepherd.
In fact, because our staff is so busy with existing programs, we have very few resources available to support additional outreach efforts.
Finally, we looked at our staffing. Our group interviewed Pastors Henke and Aden, asking them all sorts of questions about their work. We learned that they enjoy their work, but are putting in a ton of hours. We are very, very fortunate to have staff members who are so devoted to Bethany.
As we talked with them, however, we realized that one of our big challenges is that Our Shepherd doesn’t have a dedicated pastor. Both Pastor Henke and Pastor Aden do ministry at Our Shepherd, but that’s not their only responsibility. So, despite our best efforts, we do have a somewhat limited connection between the Our Shepherd families and Bethany.
In that way, Our Shepherd was somewhat better positioned for a ministry that connected Bethany and Our Shepherd when it opened. Back then, Our Shepherd had a dedicated staff minister with the time to reach out to families. Ann Potter – who is the Director of the Our Shepherd - does a great job working with these families. However, it can be hard for her to find enough time to minister to them on top of her responsibilities as Director. The word of mouth and waiting lists are good examples of the effectiveness of this ministry, but more staffing resources would help us share the gospel with these families.
So, now that we’ve had all these ‘a-ha!’ moments… you may be wondering… well, what happens next?
Our team has identified four strategic questions that it needs to answer, in order to develop a strategic plan for the next 5-10 years. First, we need to know how we can best engage our members to share Christ with those outside our faith community. Second, we need to outline the best way for Bethany and Our Shepherd to be connected. Third, we need to figure out how we – as a congregation – can support and prepare for growth. We need to look at how growth will affect our staffing, our resources, our facilities and the engagement of our members. Finally, we need to answer this question: What ministries are we best equipped to offer and develop.
Next week, we will move one step closer to answering those questions when we hold our Listening Session discussion circles. The information from our congregation will help us as we work to answer the four questions I just described. We are also gathering some other data right now. We are surveying Our Shepherd families about their spiritual needs. And, we are interviewing other congregations with two campuses and congregations with child care ministries. Once we have gathered that data, we will begin to brainstorm different ideas for how our future might look.
Please help us with this important work. Join us for one of the discussion circles next week and share your opinions. Members of our team will be asking a series of questions to guide the conversation. We hope to be able to gather your input. Our services will be shortened, to give you time to participate. And, there will be discussion circles after each service. We hope you can join us!
Bethany Lutheran Church - 29:11 Planning Team
Did you know? Bethany Lutheran Church 29:11 Planning Team
Meet the 29:11 Planning Team Shane Herron, Chair Pastor Darin Aden Rosie Bunnow Paul Heyer Diane Krueger Erika Siquiera Lindsey Reynolds Jim Knolll Pastor Mark Henke Brett Fenske Cheryl Kaczmarek Ann Potter
29:11 Planning Team: Our Charge <ul><li>Develop a 5-10 year plan </li></ul><ul><li>to focus the direction of the ministries </li></ul><ul><li>and campuses </li></ul><ul><li>of Bethany and Our Shepherd </li></ul><ul><li>and the timeline and resources </li></ul><ul><li>needed to implement and measure those goals. </li></ul>
29:11 Planning Team <ul><li>“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” --Jeremiah 29:11 </li></ul>
Research <ul><li>Our goal: Discover ‘A-ha!’ moments that have the potential to affect our planning. </li></ul><ul><li>We have discovered more than 125 ‘a-ha!’ moments relating to our congregation, Our Shepherd, the community. </li></ul>
Our Shepherd demographics <ul><li>Our Shepherd enrollment has grown dramatically from 20 children in 2001 to 120 children today . Add their parents and siblings, and you have size of a small congregation! </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Our Shepherd </li></ul>
Our Shepherd demographics <ul><li>Insert mapping data on Our Shepherd families from Jeff Hedtke </li></ul><ul><li>Insert mapping data showing both Our Shepherd and Bethany families. </li></ul>
Our Shepherd demographics <ul><li>1 out of every 5 Our Shepherd families is unchurched. </li></ul><ul><li>Our Shepherd has enough work for a full-time pastor right now. Source: Our Shepherd </li></ul>
Strategic Questions <ul><li>How do we engage our members to share Christ with those outside our faith community? </li></ul><ul><li>How should Bethany and Our Shepherd be connected? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we support and prepare for growth as a congregation – in staffing, resources, facilities and engagement? </li></ul><ul><li>What ministries are we best equipped to offer and develop? </li></ul>
29:11 Planning Team Next Steps <ul><li>Hold Listening Session Discussion Circles (June 25 and 28) </li></ul><ul><li>Survey Our Shepherd Families (June and July 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Interview other congregations with two-campuses and child care ministries (June and July 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm scenarios for our future (July and August 2009) </li></ul>
Please join us… <ul><li>Listening Session Discussion Circles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thursday, June 25 @ 7:05 p.m. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sunday, June 28 @ 8:35 a.m. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sunday, June 28 @ 10:35 a.m. </li></ul></ul>