by Bill Cox
Over the course of the past two years, I have been conducting a Leadership Training Course at New Hope Christian Church in Bridgeport, Illinois. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard well-known, respected preachers like Ben Merold, Bob Russell, Barry Cameron, Gary Johnson, and so many more say that a church will never rise above the level of its leaders. And I knew that for our congregation to grow and be successful over the long term, we needed to focus on leadership development.
I chose to use e2’s series of four books, Answer: His Call, Reflect: His Character, Lead: His Church, and Enjoy: His People. While studying the third chapter of Lead, we were stopped dead in our tracks. As our leaders discussed this issues at hand, we realized that like so many churches, our only plan was, “See you next week. Let’s do it again.” The chapter was entitled, Looking Ahead: Leading through Strategic Planning. Suffice it to say, we did not have a strategic plan in place at our congregation.
Gary Johnson wrote that chapter. I had known of Gary for years, and had, in fact, already scheduled him to speak at an event in our area. So, with the approval of our leadership, I emailed Gary to ask if he would also come and share with us concerning strategic planning. Long story short, our journey with e2 had begun with that message.
We had our first meeting with Gary in June, and rather than jump right into a three-year strategic plan, he shared with us the need to establish a Vision Statement, Mission statement, and Core Value Statements. And then guided us through that process. He didn’t come to tell us all the answers. He led us through a process whereby we ourselves set the V, M, and CV based on our own knowledge of our church, our community, and our convictions. He helped us determine a launch date for a series of messages as we introduced these new ideas and plans to our congregation. He helped us think through various concrete actions we could take that would help to continue this process, such as new signage in our building, a video explaining these statements, bookmarks and magnets, and so on, and launching a new web site for our congregation. We have implemented each of these ideas.
This Sunday, October 1st, I will be preaching the 4th message of our nine-week series explaining it to our people here at New Hope. Excitement is growing, people are getting on board, and we are looking forward to having Gary back to guide us through the process of establishing a three-year strategic plan now that the foundation has been laid.
You may visit our website at newhopegps.org. Our video explaining the process is there. New Hope Christian Church wants to be Today’s Help & Tomorrow’s Hope. We will accomplish this by Loving God, Loving People, & Serving the World. We posted our Core Values Statement there as well.
Thank You, Gary, and e2: effective elders for all you do for the Kingdom. You have been a great blessing to us, and we look forward to continuing our journey with you!