Our Purpose Mapping
Posted on June 9, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
You’ve heard a lot about “Purpose Mapping” the last few months and may have been asking “What’s the next step?”
The process is a series of steps, and like the steps on the Manitou Incline, it’s a bit overwhelming when you are at the bottom and can’t see the finish line.
The first step in the process was realizing we needed to take a concerted effort towards discerning God’s vision for Ascension – that was our goal.
Therefore, in October of 2016, Donna Crump was asked to lead a Strategic Planning Call Committee made up of Jon Thompson, Nancy Albertson, Stacey Jensen, and Pastor Dan Holt. The committee was tasked with recommending a compatible firm to guide us in our quest to develop a vision and strategic direction for our Ministry at Ascension. We had taken our first step!
Armed with a little information about ourselves, the Strategic Planning Call Committee began researching firms specializing in nonprofit strategic planning. We interviewed three different firms and unanimously recommended hiring Kristin Wiersma of the Joshua Group. The Council agreed. Kristin named our process “Purpose Mapping,” and committed to staying with us for 18 months (starting in January 2018) while we continued our climb to the top.
The Purpose Mapping Leadership Team was formed in January 2018 to work with Kristin Wiersma. We added Sadie Hjelmstad and John Hayes to the previous members of the Strategic Planning Call Committee and took a few more steps. We set up one-on-one listening sessions with 66 members of the congregation in February, implemented a Leadership Systems Assessment with current and past council members in March, organized two Community Panel Discussions in April, and provided Kristin with information on our giving practices and congregation culture in May. In doing so, we conquered more steps to the top of our “incline.”
In late May, Kristin met with the congregation to discuss and summarize her findings. When it came to Ascension’s “assets and affirmations,” one of the first things she noted was the strength of our church culture.
Kristin commented, “As one who’s worked across this country with ELCA churches…that is unique and special, and we give thanks for that. There has been a particular attention payed to health of relationships and leadership, to the centrality of worship, to the care of the people, for the spirit of grace that permeates this place, and for the way that you each are called to serve.”
Another asset Kristin noticed was “The faith-life of people at Ascension.” She goes on to say, “For me that is just an indicator that you’ve got some growing and mature faith here. Not everywhere do I encounter people who take it very seriously, for study, for learning, for connection, relationships, and for regular worship.”
Kristin remarks that, “You have a fantastic Lay Leadership system that involves a lot of people. But we have to be really thoughtful on how to not let those structures get in the way of our ministry impact and the deepening of faith we can have for folks here.”
Of course, where there are strengths in a congregation–there are weaknesses in a congregation.
Our greatest challenge, or “the big kahuna,” is the need for clarity of purpose. There seems to be a unanimous feeling that “We’re doing fine, we’re doing great…we just aren’t really certain where we’re going.” There’s several cogs moving within the church, and so there’s confusion as to what the one focus should be.
Other challenges Kristin observed were with communication,technology, and engaging new people (beyond a friendly hello and direction to the coffee cart).
Hearing about Ascension’s strengths and weaknesses is enlightening and humbling–but the best part of our Purpose Mapping is that we will be given the tools and strategies to fortify what we do well, and develop what we need more of.
Now, “What is that next step?”
Our next steps include two way point teams: Shared Vision and Leadership.
These teams will involve people from the Purpose Mapping Leadership Team, the council, and other Ascension members. Please consider serving if asked to be a Way Point Team member.
Our Purpose Mapping journey is far from over, and there will be many more “steps” to come…but that’s all part of the adventure of faith.