For the first time in over a year, I am not writing a construction update column. Rather than figuring out exactly what work had been done in the last month and searching my phone and my files for appropriate photos, I am instead thinking about our joyful first worship service and our upcoming celebratory dedication event. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.
As I write this, we have been worshiping and living in our beautiful renovated space for just over a month, figuring out where things go and how things work, trying to organize our belongings in a tidy way that makes our work efficient. It’s been a joy working in my new office at my stand-up desk, enjoying my view of the hills and the quirky ground squirrel that lives in the bank of the railroad tracks.
I know everyone joins me in thanking the many people who made this sacred place possible, and I hope you’ll make time to come to our Gala Open House and Dedication on May 17, where we’ll be able to show off the building to the community, offer grateful thanks to the Construction Team, and give thanks to God as we dedicate our building to worship and ministry.
Amid all the joy and relief and sense of accomplishment, I have to admit that there is a part of me feels a sense of unease … or perhaps restlessness would be a better word. In the two years that I’ve been your Associate Pastor, the construction project has been the primary focus of my ministry among you—and now it’s over. While I’m tired and looking forward to not having to mull over construction details and contractor invoices, the restless part of me that relishes having a project to focus on is asking, now what?
Fortunately for that restless part of me, it’s quite likely that my next project is already waiting in the wings. During its last few meetings, the Cabinet has begun considering the idea of Niles Discovery Church embarking on a strategic planning process. If you’ve been part of a strategic planning process in business or education, you know that a strategic plan is a way for an organization to envision a desired future, translate that vision into goals with strategies to achieve them, and allocate both financial and human resources to effectively reach the desired vision. A strategic planning process helps the organization analyze its strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and barriers present for its continued thriving.
In a church, the process takes on a theological and spiritual dimension. As part of considering an overall vision and how to get there, the congregation ponders the question, what has God called us to do? What do we believe we are to do in and for the world, in light of who we are as a worshiping Christian community? A second key theological and spiritual question is, who is our neighbor? In other words, given the place and time in which we live, what ministries are appropriate for our community and unique context? How can we best build the Body of Christ and the Kin-dom of God here in the Tri-Cities?
We have a beautiful new building and a legacy fund remaining from the sale of our property. We are a vital and compassionate congregation. As our last Town Hall Meeting showed us, we have many ideas for being engaged in the community. A strategic plan will help us focus our resources, energy, and vision for our long-term vitality and service to the community. I can’t wait to get started!