You might wonder why I posted an entry featuring one of our Senior Saints in my last blog entry. The reason is quite simple; these people have left us a starting point. In some cases, you may be in a new church plant but in most, you are in a church that has been established for some time. The next step is critical as we begin to cast vision in our local church; understand your past.
WHAT IS OUR HISTORY
I will readily admit that there are some who do not see the importance of this step, but I personally believe it to be vital to success. Too often, we have such a desire to look forward that we don’t realize the need to look back. I like to say, “it’s okay to look back, but don’t stare.” Ask a few questions that will help you determine and find the proper place to gather your data from.
- Church minutes are an excellent source to turn to in this step. When did the local church start? Where was the first congregation meeting? Were there any special circumstances surrounding the plant of the church. Who were the charter members?
- Long-time members of the local church are an invaluable asset. Quite often, they will be able to tell you how and why the local church was established in your city. Was it the result of a church split? Unfortunately this has been the starting point of many local congregations, and in my personal opinion, is NOT the best way. Too often the seed of discontent and discord are sown into the DNA of the local church. Most of the time, the local church was started because someone had a burden for a particular city or town, or there was a genuine push to expand the church into unreached areas. To this day, we still celebrate when the Church of God of Prophecy has reached a new nation of the world by highlighting it in our biennial International Assemblies. Long-time church members should be interviewed, and it would be a great idea to make a video recording of their memories. This is a great tool for celebrating later.
- State/National records. Make an appointment to meet with your state/national overseer to see if there is something in the records that might help you in your quest.
Be sure to keep good records from the present time forward. As mentioned before, interview the members who have been affiliated with your church from the beginning (or as close as you can get to it) to understand the impetus for the church plant. In the next post, we will discuss the SWOT process a little more, followed by information on the development and implementation of your MISSION and VISION statements.