Here's the outline of an oral report I gave at St. Thomas' annual meeting today.
- I'm John Bradley. One of my hats is the facilitator of the Grow Team.
- First of all, I'd like to recognize the other members of the Grow Team. Please stand. Thanks for your wisdom and hard work.
- Helen Monroy
- Gil Ferris
- Roxanne Gaylord
- Sam Arnts
- Cinda Wheat
- Almost two years ago, the vestry commissioned the Grow Team to look at the big issues our parish is facing in this time and place.
- We developed a four-part model for parish growth:
- Serve our neighbors and the community.
- Invite non-church-goers to visit.
- Welcome visitors as we would welcome Jesus.
- Connect newcomers and established members.
- We wrote a report containing 18 recommendations for implementing this plan.
- During 2018, we worked on implementing those recommendations.
- We accomplished a lot. You can read those on page 11 of the annual report.
- Let me just highlight four of them:
- We provided name tags for parishioners and encouraged everyone to wear them.
- Most of you are doing so. Thank you!
- This helps new people learn names.
- It will help our new rector too.
We improved our website and expanded our presence on social media.
- We now have a presence on all the major social media channels.
- We currently have 307 followers on Facebook.
- Audio recordings of Sunday sermon are available on the website, SoundCloud,, and Apple Podcasts. (Thank you Bill Arnts for faithfully recording the sermons and getting them to me quickly.)
We created a welcome table in the back of the church, purchased a welcome banner, revised the welcome brochure, and simplified the visitor cards.
We started quarterly fellowship events.
- The first event, in November, was a potluck dinner.
- The second event will be on Wednesday, February 13, at 5:30 pm. We're calling it Pizza, Pop, and Parcheesi. We'll bring the pizza and pop. You bring your favorite board games. Invite your friends!
We've accomplished a lot, but we have much more to do. Parish growth is a long-term process.
Our average Sunday attendance actually shrunk last year--from 64 during 2017 to 56 in 2018. Don't be alarmed. Dips are normal during a transition period.
Growth occurs in many ways. Don't be discouraged because we don't have a lot of visitors or new members.
During 2019, the Grow Team especially wants to focus on the Invite part of our model.
- The national Episcopal Church will soon be publishing a new curriculum called Evangelism 101.
- The Grow Team hopes to share this curriculum later this year.
- Evangelism is a scary word for Episcopalians. It conjures images of Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah's Witness going door to door. But Episcopal evangelism is different. It's about getting to know your neighbors, sharing your story, and inviting people to church.
I want to leave you with three action items:
- Continue using social media to raise awareness of our parish. When you see something you like on our parish website, especially events, share them on your Facebook timeline or send them to a friend using Facebook Messenger.
- Attend Sunday services as often as possible. Not only will you benefit spiritually, but you'll also help improve our average Sunday attendance--which is one of the vital statics of parish live.
- Join us at our monthly meetings, which are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 6 pm in the memorial room. We need more help.
Would any of the other members of Grow Team like to add to what I said?
What questions or comments do you have?