31 Days of Prayer begins August 1
First Church, Round Rock is joining together for a special season of seeking God for a fresh vision for the next great chapter of our ministry. The first step is to invite everyone into 31 days of prayer, beginning today. Please set aside 10 minutes to pray each of the four prayers daily, listening for God to speak to your mind and heart.
- That you might draw closer in your relationship with God…letting God love you as you are and guide you into wisdom and learning as a growing disciple.
- That you will be open to today’s opportunities for God to touch you with the Holy Spirit and use you as God sees fit.
- That our congregation will hear the voice of God and be stirred to reach people as never before.
- That we will be both sensitive and bold to walk in obedience to the vision God shows us.
A message from Dr. Will Cotton
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
What a joy it is to send this letter your way as your senior pastor. It’s hard to believe that a whole year of ministry together has passed. I have been blessed by the warmth of your welcome to Tina and me, your support during a year of transitions and your responsiveness to the financial and ministry needs of our church. Throughout this year, I have heard many of you share the great story of our congregation and how it has been willing to do whatever it takes to make room for and minister with the many people moving into greater Round Rock through ministries that express the love of God in Jesus Christ. This commitment has been expressed in taking a leap of faith…deciding to move from its home on Brown Street to a new one on Mays Street; then, initially the building of the Family Life Center and the Pods, to the additions of our two story education and office building, to the construction of our beautiful sanctuary, and to the new south parking lot. We are a congregation who listens for the guidance of God’s Spirit to discern our next steps and then responds in faith and bold action.
About every ten to twelve years, our church enters a new stage in its growth and mission. It responds by entering a season of discernment aimed at articulating a strategic plan for our ministries. Vision 2000 and Vision 2020 were documents that were both developed in this way. Early this year, while I was praying about how we would embark on this work for our future, I received a call from John Thornburg at Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF). John is both a trusted colleague and a personal friend. TMF has been our financial partner institution helping us to build and expand our facilities. But, TMF does much more that offer loans and lines of credit. They also equip pastors and church leaders for more effective ministry. In our phone conversation, John said to me, “Will, we have needed for quite some time to create a way to help very large churches set in motion new vision, strategic planning and new branding for more effective ministry. And I wonder, if you and First UMC, Round Rock, might be interested in something like this?…And what if we were to partner with you in this effort by connecting you with some of the finest people in that field, and assist with the costs involved?” I responded, “I think you’re speaking my language.” John promptly introduced me to M Group Agency; a company that specializes in helping organizations clarify and communicate their vision and develop plans that express that vision. Upon meeting M Group Agency’s founder Janet Mitchell, I knew we were at the edge of a rare opportunity for any congregation.
I presented the idea of working with the M Group Agency team to help us with our discernment and visioning process to our Trustees, Finance, SPR, LEADFirst and Church Council. Their response was enthusiastic. Not only were they impressed with the people with whom we would be working, but were especially pleased to learn that TMF was assisting in underwriting the cost! They swiftly approved the proposal. First Church has already begun working with M Group Agency. Together we are developing a process that will continue through March 2018. A Vision Core Team has been nominated and will begin their official work with M Group Agency on July 31. Ideas that are already in the works are group feedback sessions, vision workshops and other events designed to gain valuable input from the congregation.
We seek to accomplish three things together:
- We will take a close look at where we are…our unique gifts, style and sense of community, and our approach to ministry, alongside what is needed by the people of greater Round Rock.
- We will put together a five-year strategic plan for putting that vision into bold action, along with an implementation strategy so that the plan is carried out and adapted as necessary.
- We will outline first steps in an advertising and communication strategy to accompany our vision and ministry plans.
The first two things everyone in the congregation is asked to do are:
- Join in our 31 Days of Prayer during the month of August. Prayer Cards will be distributed to guide your prayers and will also be available on our website.
- Participate in the forthcoming All-Church Survey – 40 key questions about who you are and what your dreams and concerns are for the next chapter of First UMC.
This we know…when the people of God determine to dream new dreams with God, God always shows up in great and surprising ways. What a privilege it is to be with you in discerning God’s future for us as we reach out to this growing region in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
“Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)