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First Baptist Church Bryan

Discipleship-Based Community Review Work Group Final Report


Submitted by: Marshall Rich (Chair) Russell Barrett Nina Leverkuhn Carole Faulkner Trish Moore Marco Gutierrez Chris Reed Jason Hamilton Julie Hamilton Kayleigh Syler Clint Bennett (Transition Team Ex-officio) Uel Stockard (Transition Team Ex-officio) Sean Wegner (Staff Assistant) Chester Fehlis (Staff Assistant)

October 1, 2013
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PRIOR TO READING THIS REPORT

PLEASE TAKE NOTE


The Transition Team is appreciative of the work of the temporary committees and their associated working groups. All reports and suggestions are being made available to the church body and have been forwarded to appropriate committees and staff members for review. Encouraged by the Transition Team some recommendations within the routine church-authorized service of our staff and lay leadership are being enacted. Any major recommendations rising to the level of church approval will not be performed without first being presented to the church in an announced business meeting. Please accept the content of this report as counsel from members of our church asked to provide thorough consideration to the assigned matter. They have each offered their considered suggestion for the betterment of our church. We are grateful to their dedicated and heartfelt labor on our behalf.

The Discipleship-Based Community Review Work Group Report I. Evaluation and Affirmation of our Current Ministry Model: While the work group considered the advantages and disadvantages of our current model of Sunday School and Small Groups, they came to affirm that both serve a valid function within our membership. (See the appendix for more information about Sunday School and small groups.) The Sunday School is the organization that provides the base line of care for our members and all new members are enrolled in a Sunday School class so that a group of leaders will be responsible for helping them assimilate into the life of the Church. Sunday School classes have the responsibility to organize in such a way as to involve members in the ongoing ministry to the needs of all members of the class. The leaders and members in Sunday School become an army of ministers that sees to the needs of our members and seeks to involve them in continuing discipleship development. The design, hope, and desire is that no person be forgotten and that no need go unmet. Since the Sunday School assembles at a time in close proximity to worship, these groups should always be open groups that welcome and reach out to new members and try to involve in their class those who attend the worship services. They should always reach out to new people and welcome them into the fellowship of the class. The Small Group ministry gives an added dimension to discipleship development. They allow 8 to 12 people to assemble when and where they desire in close and more intimate relationship to pursue further studies in areas of interest to the group. These groups can be outreach-focused and seek to draw in new members and outsiders, but they also can become closed groups due to the close relationships that form or by the nature of the content being studied. The work group noted that at times when the Small Groups are formed from within the Sunday School class they tend to create unintentionally an atmosphere that makes the Sunday School class less open and receptive to new people. The members become so comfortable together that new people find it hard to fit in. Caution needs to be taken to keep groups from getting so comfortable with one another that they forget about how guests feel. Indeed our mission is to reach as many as possible for a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the past few years many people have not connected to one another through the Sunday School. Newer people and those who have been here for yearsbut have not been properly assimilated into the fellowship, for whatever reasonhave not been connected and are no longer active. The demographics provided by Clay Price highlighted the reality of the large number of inactive members within the church. The 3

Sunday School and Small Groups need to include in their plans an effort to reach out to these inactive members and seek to bring them back into active involvement. II. Addition of Ministry Personnel to Focus on Discipleship Development We must provide greater training and oversight of the work needed to organize in an appropriate manner and utilize the Sunday School and Small Group Ministry to shepherd our members toward growth and discipleship more effectively. A starting point could be the expansion of or reorganization of the duties of our ministerial staff. Our ministerial staff has been organized where many of them are responsible for more than one area of major oversight. The work group would recommend that the Personnel Committee carefully study the staff alignment and consider ways to give greater staff attention to the areas of education and discipleship development. These areas of vital discipleship development need to receive more concentrated staff attention. When the Work Group studied the demographics shared by Clay Price from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the team noted several areas of concern that supports the need for additional ministers to serve in key areas of ministry. Below are several considerations from the statistics that informed our concern for additional staffing. 1. The large population of 15-19, 20-24 year olds points to the need for a primary staff member who can give full-time to reaching the college population in this community. We are afforded an opportunity that few churches in our state have to reach, equip, mentor and send out churchmen and missionaries into all parts of our world. 2. With the large population of the Young Adults, age 20-34 we have a great opportunity to reach and minister with a larger segment of this population. We have an extremely good quality of ministry to preschool and children, and we need to provide a greater quality of ministry to their parents. Again we need a staff member who can give more time and energy to reaching and ministering to Young Adults than our current staff assignment allows. 3. In our Adult, Senior Adult and Single Adults, age 35-64, we have more inactive people than active. This major concern highlights an obvious need to fill the staff position vacated in February, 2012, by retirement. We need staff leadership for this area if we are going to reach, assimilate, and disciple this significant group of adults. 4. The high numbers of inactive members from ages 18-64 who reside in the neighborhoods where our active members live give indication that we need to expand the involvement of the Sunday School and the Small Group ministry as a tool to reclaim these members. In addition to the staff needs listed above, we need to expand our Small Group Ministry with greater involvement from a 4

staffing perspective than currently provided. We have a very effective part-time coordinator who does an excellent job with the Small Group Ministry, but this ministry will eventually need the leadership of a more full-time staff member. If we are to coordinate and administer a growing program of Christian discipleship from birth until death effectively, the church also needs a senior staff leader who gives full time and full energy to the development of a comprehensive strategy. Large, complex churches require a large force of well-trained leaders. The responsibility for development of leadership recruitment and training should be assigned to a designated minister with specific responsibilities to recruit and train the leadership force needed to meet the ministry demands of the overall church. This staff member would coordinate and involve of the entire ministerial staff in the recruitment and training of our large force of volunteers. It is very unlikely that we will be able to add that many full-time ministers to our staff at one time. However, we do need a plan to address these vital areas of leadership. Perhaps we will have to combine areas for a period of time until growth allows for the addition of the other positions, or we may need to utilize part-time, high-capacity individuals who can help us staff these areas until we can add full-time ministers. III. Addressing the Future through a Common Sunday School Hour The work group received input regarding the need to have a fully graded Sunday School in both time slots so that people truly have the option to choose which worship service they will attend. With youth, college and most young adult classes primarily offered at the 10:30 time slot, many feel they do not have an opportunity to make the choice of when they will worship. This issue has been expressed specifically as a concern by families with younger youth. Trying to divide youth and college between the two different Sunday School hours was discussed. Obviously it is a possibility but not without major concerns. Given the affinity of youth and college groups to want to be with their group in the same hour, this idea does not seem to be a viable option. The church's history with this type opportunity in 1985-86 confirms that basic premise that the youth tend to migrate to a common hour where they can be together. The discussion of the stated concerns led to the consideration of the possibility of providing a common Sunday School hour with worship services on each side of the Sunday School hour. A single Sunday School hour will allow participants from both worship services to meet in a common setting, allowing for more unity in our church rather than promoting the division experienced in our current schedule.

The work group has worked under the basic assumption that there should and would be a traditional worship service and a contemporary worship service. The assumption has been tentatively verified by the preliminary report as a result of the Worship Inquiry used on August 18, 2013. We await the full results of that survey to confirm this preliminary understanding. The possibility of a common Sunday School with two worship services has also been offered from various sources as an avenue for greater unity among the members. Although not mixing the age groupings of the classes generationally, a single Sunday School with a larger pools of volunteers will allow for more seasoned leaders to be involved as coordinators, teachers and mentors with younger adults, giving intergenerational involvement. Our facilities have the capacity to house comfortably in Sunday School approximately 1100 adults, college and youth, 190 children in grades 1-6, and 225 preschoolers or a total of just over 1500. We are currently averaging approximately 800 so the building will allow for growth. The move to a common Sunday School hour is not without several opportunities that must be addressed. First is the matter of adequate space. We do not have enough space on campus to house an adequate Sunday School structure in one hour. Space does not seem to be a limiting factor in Preschool and in Children. However, when we consider the youth, college, and adults, we find that space is indeed a limiting factor. To house a common Sunday School, we will have the opportunity of providing additional space. We currently have 56 spaces designed for Sunday School and 3 others that could be used for that purpose for a total space count of 59. The organization for Sunday School on August 25, Promotion Sunday, consisted of 66 classes or departments needing individual space. If we were to combine into one Sunday School, it appears that the Preschool and Children's Division will use all 25 spaces for their departments. That leaves 34 spaces for Youth, College and Adults. When school is in session, the College Department setup utilizes the 8 spaces contained in Fellowship Hall for their assembly and 3 classes. The way we set up for the Youth Department, they occupy 3 spaces for assembly in addition to 6 classes. Combined, these two groups occupy 17 spaces for 9 classes. After assigning spaces to Preschool, Children, Youth and College, we have only 17 spaces left to house 34 Adult Bible Fellowships. (See the appendix for more information about specific space needs.) In the combined Sunday School, we could perhaps reorganize the Young Adult and Adult Divisions and bring together some of our smaller groups to give them greater attendance potential and to fill our existing space more effectively. We will, however, still need additional space to house all the classes anticipated in one Sunday School hour. 6

One option to gain more space would be to ask groups (those less bound to the building by virtue of their limited mobility or their children's activities) to meet as small groups off campus during the Sunday School hour or perhaps even at alternate times. This idea could be a feasible option for median, single and other appropriate adult groups. Obviously this idea would be the least expensive of the options. This option would create the difficulty of getting new people who attend worship into an off campus group on the same day they attend worship. Having groups off campus undermines one of the primary strengths of Sunday School as mentioned in Section I above. When individuals leave campus, participants may go home or elsewhere rather than to the Sunday School class. Although a less expensive option, off campus groups may prove to be less attractive because of our desire to involve new people in Bible Study as soon as possible. We also discussed the possibility of moving the College Department off campus and perhaps even moving the Youth Department. Since these groups need larger spaces for assembly and it is not feasible to then divide the assembly space down into smaller classrooms due to the difficulty of handling the modular walls, it may be reasonable to acquire space that would complement better the way they assemble and then break into classes. With independent Adult Bible Fellowships, we would not have the need for the assembly space and could utilize all classrooms as they were designed to be used. One way to acquire additional space would be to rent it. If we can find suitable rental space for an indefinite period of time, the decision would need to be made about which groups would meet off campus. The availability of space and its configuration would likely determine those groups that would meet off campus. In some cases it might be necessary to provide mass transportation to and from the off campus locations. Another option is to build temporary or modular space. These buildings can be done much more quickly and at a reduced initial cost. We have provided modular space in the past, and those units worked well for the needs during a transitional time. The modular space could allow us to grow to the place where we could provide more permanent space. Another option is the addition of permanent space. The planning, fund-raising, and construction of such space will obviously take the longest and require the greatest financial commitment. We do have the property across the Cambridge that would allow for additional space and could be constructed to house a college and youth-oriented facility. If we choose this option, rental space, modular space, or off campus small groups could be used until permanent space could be built. With the existing debt of $3.5 million the Church would likely need to address that debt prior to incurring the additional debt needed to construct additional space. A number of 7

members continue to make monthly contributions above their tithe to help pay the debt down as quickly as possible. Other members need to be encouraged to consider joining these faithful few in reducing that debt as soon as possible. The Church has over $400,000 in the Budget Reserve that could be used to help provide temporary space or to secure professional assistance to provide a feasibility study regarding additional space. The Church Architecture Department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas provides such professional services at a very reasonable cost. Off campus small groups, the rental of space, or the construction of temporary or permanent space are all feasible options for First Baptist Bryan. We must choose which set of opportunities and challenges that we wish to address in the day ahead. As a congregation, we are very capable of adequately addressing those opportunities and challenges we choose to address. A second opportunity that we will face has to do with leadership for the common Sunday School hour. Under this structure, there will be areas of relief that may be of great benefit to the church. For our preschoolers who are three and under, we will need leaders in three time blocks rather than in two as we have now. We currently have difficulty in staffing these classes with volunteers and must employ Children's Ministry Aides to assist us in adequate teaching and care of these younger preschoolers. One option to provide for their care is to employ more Children's Ministry Aides. That could impact our annual budget for approximately $25,000. In combining childrens classes into one Sunday School organization, we will have some workers with older preschoolers and children who potentially will not be required. We could train those volunteers to work in the younger preschool area. We could also ask our members to consider give the entire morning to the ministry at church by attending a worship hour and their Sunday School hour and then teaching younger preschoolers during the off hour for them. If enough of our members would choose that opportunity, then we could reduce the number of Children's Ministry Aides that we would need. Another benefit of the move to one Sunday School hour is the availability of leaders to serve in different age groups where their service was prevented by their choice of worship hours in the current schedule. This broader leadership pool would allow our younger members to benefit from the leadership and mentorship of "stage in life" leaders.

This schedule would also encourage parents to attend a Sunday School class while their children are involved in Sunday School so that the family can attend worship together.

IV. Recommendations of the Discipleship-Based Community Work Group Given the opportunities and challenges that we have considered in this study, the Discipleship-Based Community Work Group makes the following recommendations:
A. We want to reaffirm the role of the Sunday School/ABF class as the baseline of care, of discipleship, and of outreach for all members so that members needs are known and met. These efforts are enhanced by the Small Groups Ministry which allows for another avenue of discipleship, care and leadership in our church. The following areas of outreach and assimilation should be developed and enhanced:

1. Training for all Sunday School/ABF/small group members and leaders in ways to engage new members and to reach out to inactive members. 2. Using existing technology (such as texting and Facebook) to keep members of Sunday School/ABF classes and small groups involved. 3. Using personal contacts and visitation (such as the CARE nights) to reach out to prospective Sunday School/ABF/small group members and to remind absentees that they have been missed. 4. Training and encouragement for the ministerial staff to utilize the new Shelby software and electronic devices so that they can reach out to those who need to be contacted.
B. We recommend that First Baptist Bryan name an ad hoc committee to study the possibility of going to a common Sunday School on August 24, 2014 and propose the following as a schedule to be considered by the Church. This proposal could be altered by 15-30 minutes later if the Church so desires.

8:00-9:10 a.m. 9:25-10:35 a.m. 10:50-12:00 p.m.

Early Worship (hymns, choir, piano, organ) Common Sunday School Late Worship (praise songs, praise band, visual atmosphere)

C. We also recommend that the Church authorize the church staff to secure a proposal from the Architecture Department at the Baptist General Convention of Texas to do a study of our facilities and provide recommendations regarding possible solutions to the space issues outlined. D. We further recommend that the Personnel Committee study the following key leadership needs on our ministerial staff: 1. The position of Minister of Adults needs to be filled as soon as possible even if on an interim basis even before the Senior Pastor is called. 2. A senior level staff minister who can coordinate the discipleship and leadership development ministry of our Church needs to be a priority once a Senior Pastor has been called. 3. The interim positions need to be evaluated and addressed as soon as feasible after a Senior Pastor has been called. 4. Eventually, we envision a ministerial staff member dedicated to each of these areas of age-level ministry: preschool, children, youth, college, young adult, adult/single adult, and senior adultall coordinated by a senior level staff minister (see #2 above) who may also provide leadership and guidance for small groups. Of course, all of these positions would be subject to budget constraints and informed by the areas of growth experienced by the church (as projected by the BGCT demographic study conducted by Clay Price).

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Appendix
The following advantages and disadvantages were developed by the working group to provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of Sunday School/ABF classes and small groups, which also allowed the working group to identify redundancies between the two programs. Small Groups Advantages Disadvantages Disconnected groups by age, service, and class Small Groups can be "cliquish" which carries over to Sunday School especially those with overlapping members Hard for new members and new believers to assimilate

Small Group "side-door"

Small groups provide opportunities for more in-depth social interaction Inter-generational connection/flexibility

Small groups can make better use Small groups can lose focus of of existing classroom space, outreach, becoming closed because of flexible meeting times groups New small groups can be created because of lack of restrictions in time and space. Small groups can be more flexible in study topics, but can also be used for whole church studies.

Lack of accountability for leaders

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Sunday School/ABF Advantages Disadvantages

Convenience/consistency in timing and physical location (proximity to worship experience), which results in Disconnected groups by service more participation or age group Limited choices for families (in timing of worship/Sunday School options)

More curriculum control, using existing materials for uniform study Sunday School allows for peerconnection, the sharing of common issues, and social connection Sunday School is graded for every age (including children) which provides adequate childcare for young families Organization fits the building (facilities)

Hard for new members and new believers to assimilate

un-served groups in each service (i.e., youth/college or young women)

space constraints lack of accountability for teachers (staff issue?)

Established Care System Quality of programs for preschool/children (experienced specialists and denominational support with teaching materials)

Some ABF's are closed by age or content

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Redundancies (generally positive) between small groups and Sunday School/ABFs, which indicate a need for both programs: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Care of members Fellowship opportunities Growth and discipleship Outreach (assimilation of prospects and new members) Service (ministry projects) Redundant curriculum (which may be a negative if a small group is studying the same material as a Sunday School/ABF that has the same members in both groups)

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