The Challenging and Exciting Future Vision for Our Church

The areas in red will be unavailable for parking due to the VDOT highway construction.

On Sunday, Oct. 30, Pastor Eric Thomas led another Campus Catalyst Town Hall meeting to present the 10-year vision, three-year initiatives, one-year goal, and 90-day objectives for First Baptist Norfolk to the church family.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has taken possession of a large portion of the church’s property to begin construction on their highway project. Approximately 40 percent of the church’s 350 paved parked spaces will no longer be available. Additional parking is available at the Cross Roads Center, the HRT Tide Lot, and Fortis College at Interstate Commerce Center, but as Pastor Eric said, you cannot grow a church on borrowed parking in the long haul.

This VDOT highway project has challenged us in how we as a church thrive rather than merely survive over the next decade. Pastor Eric read this verse to open the Town Hall Meeting:

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:23-24)

VDOT has presented a challenge to us, Pastor Eric said, but we believe God has sovereignly orchestrated these events so that we could pursue the mission He’s given and the glory He deserves.

The Vision Team was comprised of the following twelve people: Kevin Beardsley, Geoff Hemphill, Phillip Herring, Michael Little, Michael Molzahn, Jenny O’Neal, Carrie Owen, Wayne Parrish, Ryan Rickman, Van Rose, Patty Senter, and Lance Walters. As they began to meet eight months ago, they came together with a “blank slate” to prayerfully seek where God was leading the church. God grew this team together to embrace the vision He had given them.

Ten-Year Vision

“Over the next decade, First Norfolk will raise up hundreds of leaders who will take thousands of people on a courageous adventure of hope. Fueled by power of the Holy Spirit and His Word, we will develop a team transformed by Jesus to radiate His rescuing light into the world. We see our members, like a fleet of lightships in dark and turbulent seas, illuminating the way to peace. We see people captured in the menacing waves of misery finding refuge in the hope that Jesus alone offers through the life-giving love and kindness we shine toward them. We see neighborhoods throughout the seven cities of Hampton Roads transformed by the light of hope we share. We see 1,500 life groups with 15,000 missionary followers of Jesus pulling people from the ocean of hopeless loneliness. We see lighthouse stations with platoons of people starting ten campuses in Hampton Roads and planting twenty new churches around the world, shining the light of truth and hope for those buffeted by the storm.

The two greatest elements we believe we are called to are to pursue God’s presence to fulfill His mission in Hampton Roads and around the world, and be developers of disciples. Currently, our church has 120 LIFEgroups and nominally between four and five thousand members, so this is a “very extravagant” vision, Pastor Eric said. However, members of the Vision Team shared with the church how the Holy Spirit came over their group and clearly directed their path.

We need this vision, shared Michael Little — we have a world to reach, and we have a God to please and serve.

This vision calls us to certain steps, which are laid out in the three-year initiatives, one-year goal, and 90-day objectives:

Three-Year Initiatives

  • Empowered Living: We will passionately pursue God and become overwhelmed by His presence so that we live like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Multiplication: We will launch our second campus with clearly defined, reproducible markers for the next eight campuses. We will plant three new churches globally.
  • Increased Leadership Capacity: We will increase our leadership capacity for future multiplication with 10 percent increase across ministry areas and 20 percent increase in multiplication leadership core.
  • Generosity: We will consistently develop and live a culture of generosity, celebrating the beauty of the gospel through giving. We will increase givers by 20 percent and giving by 25 percent.

One-Year Goal

First Norfolk Advance: Between January and December 2017, we will launch a campus in our multi-site strategy.

90-Day Objectives

  • Develop Leaders
  • Select Campus Location
  • Develop Communication Plan
  • Select Leadership/Core Team

Although we do not have all the details or answers yet, we believe we need this vision in light of the highway being built right next to our church. Pastor Eric noted that when the fire took our previous building in downtown Norfolk, the church family was filled with faith and trusted the Spirit of God in the move to our current location. It was tragic, but it moved us to better days.

Pastor Eric said he believes what God is doing is along those same veins — God is using the VDOT construction project to propel us to even better days

This is the beginning of our journey together as a church. There will be more opportunities to ask questions and have them answered in the coming days, and we will continue to have Campus Catalyst meetings to communicate important information.

Please be in prayer for our church and this vision God has given us to better pursue His presence and make disciples in Hampton Roads and around the world. Pray that our hearts would be united as we face this challenging and exciting future together.

“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11)


Author: Sarah Goff

Sarah is the Digital Content Manager for the Media Ministry team of First Baptist Norfolk.

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