In 2015 we asked God where he was calling St. John the Divine. We tried to Imagine what God might have for us next. Hours of meetings, 450+ inputs from parishioners and 21 days of prayer led us to believe that God has an incredible future for this amazing church.
We were hearing a call to Transform Lives by connecting them more deeply to Jesus, Equip People in practical, holistic ways to live their faith in the world, and Mobilize Everyone to serve others and change the world. But what would that look like in the next 5–10 years? How would we live into those purposes?
As we sought to define what the “best is yet to be” would look like, our vestry came together in four ‘strategy teams’ to study how best SJD could:
- Be a world-class teaching center for faith formation and ministry development
- Mobilize everyone to strategically transform Houston and the world for Christ
- Be seen as the family resource center that serves the diverse needs of our community
- Raise up generations of servant leaders for Houston, the diocese and the Church
Over the past two years these teams read books, made field trips, and talked with experts around the world. After hundreds of hours of work, consultations, and meetings, they developed high-level frameworks for implementing these audacious strategies: foundations upon which our future as a church could be built.
The goal of the teaching center is to be a recognized center of excellent practical Christian formation, with course offerings ranging from introductory classes to in-depth theology. We will offer advanced Christian theology for laymen, apologetics and application for youth through adult, basic Biblical literacy for children, and Christian learning for all ages.
We will offer a three-year open program for Christian learning and development, and a fellows and mentors program and teacher training for each of our core programs, with high-level technology integration and publication of our original programs for sharing beyond SJD.
Family Resource Center:
The goal of the family resource center is to help individuals, families and the overall community thrive. We will do this by specifically focusing on:
- helping individuals and families build positive relationships (eg. positive parent/child relationships, communication, work/life balance, healthy marriages, discipline)
- ensuring long-term health and wellbeing (eg. financial peace, career planning, living faith in an increasingly secular world, managing kinds and technology)
- managing life events (eg. grief counseling, job loss, divorce & separation, bullying, aging parents)
The groundwork already exists at SJD for many of the individual programs and services needed to help families and individuals thrive. What is still needed is focused coordination that requires expending additional resources for a dedicated Director of Family Ministry and the development and training of a Crisis Care Team.
In order to mobilize everyone in service, we will assess the gifts and talents of our people and educate them to understand what missional service looks like. We will provide numerous outreach opportunities aligned with our vision and goals that engage the gifts, talents, and interests of all our members. We will focus these strategies to transform select communities through lasting, caring relationships, integrate our resources and efforts to maximize impact, and strategically address systemic problems instead of symptoms.
In order to raise up new generations of servant leaders, we will strengthen leaders through Christian course work to equip them for their current and future challenges. We will launch a leadership center with a dedicated program director and produce a fully-developed course offering. We will partner with institutions that are already outstanding in leadership training and develop curricula to train leader for our church and the greater society.
These teams finalized their work this past fall, and have readied us for our next steps. Determining our next steps is a long-term project, and you will be hearing more about the process soon!