The Agape SDA Church, located in Bolongo Bay, St. Thomas, has launched its first step toward a long-term plan that would enhance church growth development while incorporating the “Lord Transform Me” components.
A Vision for Church Growth Is Born
The church congregation, now pastored by Pastor Danny Philip, has been working with its Elders, Church Board and Congregation to seek ways of discovering what the critical needs are for the church and the community, and strategizing methods in which the members can be involved individually and holistically to meet those needs in a practical manner.
The spiritual, yet tactical, manner to mobilize those strategies began with a planning meeting for the church Board to review a guideline that is used in the book, Creating Healthy Adventist Churches Through Natural Development, written by Burrill & Evans: The 8 Characteristics of a Healthy Church, and how they correlate with biblical principles in natural church growth and development. The board prayerfully searched for what were the top of the 8 essentials that would mobilize the church to the next level (not necessarily seeking ways to increase membership in the church, although that is also important), but fundamentally seeking ways that membership can best utilize the power of the Holy Spirit to work with each member internally; and, thereby expand that value to others through living a Christ-centered life in our daily walk with Christ.
During a half night’s prayer session, the foundation for what would later be an all-day spiritual Board Retreat was formulated and voted on by the Church Board. The Board voted to have a full-day retreat, to be held on Sabbath, October 20, 2018, at the SunRay Lounge and Training Center.
Leaders Plan Intentionally
In addition to having all board members in attendance, 10 young people from the Adventist Youth (AY) Department were also included in order to have a strengthening generational balance of diversification. The First Elder, Royden Fleming explained that the main objective of the retreat was, “. . . to move the church forward to a higher functional spiritual level.”
Pastor Philip elaborated, “The goals for this retreat were to involve all of our leaders in a dialogue that would identify areas that are opportunities for improvement in our spiritual life and to discover practical ways that our full membership can be involved in the strengthening of those areas…”
The Board’s retreat welcomed 32 members (including 10 youth) who participated in reviewing where we are as a church; where we need to be in order to move forward; and, the tools and spiritual guidance needed during these closing days of history.
Resources for Growth and Strategic Planning
One guest presenter was Dr. Haldene Davies, the Vice President of Business Development and Innovation at the University of the Virgin Islands. During the first portion of the retreat, he focused on the importance of planning for church growth and development; he also iterated the critical need to have the involvement of the Holy Spirit in church ministry and the Church’s Mission.
Then Pastor Philip used a PowerPoint presentation to highlight the 8 Essential Characteristics of a Healthy Church, and what we can do to utilize and maintain them:
1. EMPOWERING LEADERSHIP; 2. GIFT-ORIENTED MINISTRY; 3. PASSIONATE SPIRITUALITY; 4. FUNCTIONAL STRUCTURES; 5. INSPIRING WORSHIP SERVICE; 6. HOLISTIC SMALL GROUPS; 7. NEED-ORIENTED EVANGELISM; 8. LOVING RELATIONSHIPS
The process involved full participation of all attendees as they identified what was the most critical need, of the 8 Essential Characteristics, for the Agape Congregation. There was a discussion of ways that the church’s involvement can help to develop change that would elevate the church’s mission and result in church growth. The participants divided into groups in order to discuss each of the 8 Essential Characteristics (each group being responsible for one or two of the 8) and record practical ways to include the church members in the utilization of those methods in an enhanced way.
The Way Forward
The goal for the church, now, is to ensure that our programs and ministries continue to utilize and incorporate these qualities and characteristics in order to continuously grow and develop naturally as a church, through the guidance and directions of the Holy Spirit.