On the evening of May 7, our church family gathered for a combined Campus Catalyst Town Hall Meeting and Church Conference. Geoff Hemphill, church treasurer, opened the meeting by giving a financial report. Our church “is in great shape” this year, and is even doing better than at this same time last year. Hemphill thanked church members for their generous giving to our missions and benevolence funds.
“Not only do you give to the budget, but you give above and beyond the budget,” he said.
During the Church Conference portion of the meeting, Pastor Eric Thomas held a vote to approve the four nominated messengers for the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, June 13-14, in Phoenix, Arizona. The vote passed, and the four messengers are Eric and Eydie Thomas and Phillip and Jan Herring.
After the Church Conference, Pastor Eric moved into the Campus Catalyst discussion. He iterated that although the construction on and around our campus has been difficult, it has also been a big blessing. The visibility of our church facility from the highway has never been better. In light of that, we have updated the sign on our building from First Baptist to firstnorfolk.org to point passersby to our website.
Another positive from the highway construction project is that we gathered together as one body at one time for Easter at the Ted, and it was “a tremendous blessing as a family of faith,” Pastor Eric said. This is something we would like to make a regular once-a-year event if possible, he continued.
Pastor Eric then reviewed our Ten-Year Vision to see 10 multi-site locations and 20 church plants in the next decade. He also reviewed our First Norfolk Advance One-Year Goal: Between January and December 2017, we will launch a campus in our multi-site strategy. We are making progress toward that goal, but have not yet finalized a location for our second campus location. As soon as it is possible, church leadership will announce the second campus location and bring it to a vote before the church.
The time period for our first 90-Day Objectives (Jan. 1-March 31) is over, but Pastor Eric introduced the next 90-Day Objectives (April 1-June 30) to our church:
- Select and train leader/core team: We will call the church to pray God’s will for them to join the leadership and core teams to be selected by June 1. (The leadership team will be First Norfolk staff and lay people who will be the “point people” for the new campus. The core team will be individuals who commit themselves to take the gospel to that neighborhood in Hampton Roads.)
- Establish footprint at New Campus: Leverage VBS, student/young adults ministries in neighborhood of new campus beginning at occupancy of new location.
- Implement Communication Plan: We will implement intentionally the compelling communication plan for the church and community to tell the story of First Norfolk’s advance.
- Develop multi-campus ministry model: Identify core values to guide multi-campus ministry to reach neighborhoods utilizing best practices with each context by June 30.
“God has used this church for 200 years in Hampton Roads for His glory, and He wants to use it for another 200 years,” Pastor Eric said. “But we have to join Him on that journey.”
The Campus Catalyst meeting ended with a corporate time of prayer. Pastor Eric again asked our church family to be praying over the Call to Prayer points he introduced in March.
“To be a part of this journey, you can pray faithfully for God to shine brightly through this church as we seek to glorify Him and advance His mission.”
The next Campus Catalyst meeting will be on May 28 at 5 pm, and will be a significant time of discussion and a potential vote about the second campus location.
During tonight’s Campus Catalyst Town Hall Meeting/Church Conference, Pastor Eric once again asked our church family to be in prayer over these specific matters:
- Pray for God’s glory to shine through us to the seven cities.
- Pray that hundreds of people far from God would be saved during this journey.
- Pray for the Campus location.
- Pray for VDOT negotiations.
Thank you, First Norfolk family, for praying and continuing to pray for our church and Hampton Roads. A more in-depth blog post recapping the evening’s discussion will be posted in the next few days.
There have been numerous things happening in our church life since the beginning of the year, so below is a summary of major news and events of which we’d like our church body to be aware.
- As a reminder, this is our vision for the next 10 years: “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.”
- Parking updates:
- We are adapting well to the parking changes that took place last fall.
- We are identifying current challenges and working on a solution.
- Shuttle pickups happen from 7:15 am to 1:15 pm on Sunday at three locations: the Cross Roads Center, the HRT lot, and the Interstate Commerce Center at Fortis College.
- We ended our 21 Days of Prayer journey on Feb. 4, but we still ask that going forward you continue to pray for our church, our nation, and our world. Read prayer points and prompts here, and continue to share your prayers on social media for First Norfolk and the advance of the gospel using #firstnorfolkpray.
- This Sunday and Wednesday, the left lane of Newtown Road will be closed in both directions between Center Drive and Princess Anne Road/Kempsville Road. Please adjust your travel time accordingly. Find more information and see a map here.
- On April 16, we will gather along with hundreds of guests to celebrate the resurrection at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion University. We will have on exciting gathering at 10 am. Look for more details in the coming weeks. Begin to invite your friends and neighbors for this special worship gathering!
FAQs about Campus Catalyst
We welcome questions about Campus Catalyst and First Norfolk Advance. The most common questions we have had so far are about the second campus location. As you know, we have identified this as one of our strategic objectives for 2017. We don’t have much new information as the research and planning process is still in the early stages; however, we wanted to answer some basic questions:
- Where will the location be?
We don’t know yet, but we have been looking at two location possibilities. Last Sunday, Pastor Eric shared in worship that “the door has closed” for one of these locations. We are continuing to investigate the second possibility.
- When will it begin?
Originally, we had the goal of starting with a soft launch of the second campus on April 23, the week after Easter. Without having a location at this time, however, that time frame is not practical. We want to do this right and not rush into starting something that isn’t ready. We also don’t want to miss the opportunity to reach people, so we are diligently working on the plans for the new campus. We do not have a date at this time.
- Who’s preaching?
This has not been decided, but Pastor Eric will be delivering a message to all locations — either live in person or live via video — much of the time. Again, we are thinking and praying about what is best for the entire church.
- Who’s going to the new campus?
No one has been asked to go at this time. We have developed a leadership training process for equipping leaders for all locations. The first round of this training is happening now with a group of people. This will be rolled out to additional groups in the near future. We do not have a timeline for beginning the process of selecting a core team to start the second location, but we are working on it, and will know something soon.
During the Nov. 27 Campus Catalyst Town Hall, once again Pastor Eric Thomas opened the meeting with this passage of Scripture:
“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)
Although the changes to our campus due to the VDOT highway construction project are presenting challenges, we believe all of these changes have been orchestrated by God. This is what God has given us, and we need to take the perspective of the verse above and “be glad in it.”
First, Pastor Eric discussed the one-year goal for 2017, which is part of “First Norfolk Advance,” our ten-year ministry strategy. Between January and December 2017, we will launch a campus in our multi-site strategy. This campus will be linked with our current location in terms of budget, polity, staff, and technology.
One of the main reasons for launching a new campus soon is because of the current parking restrictions due to the highway construction. We have lost 361 parking spaces, and the parking we currently have limits our church growth and the advance we believe God wants us to pursue. Once a church reaches 80 percent of their parking capacity, their growth is hindered. Although yes, we have borrowed parking lots, we can only borrow parking for a season — it is not a long-term solution that allows for church growth. We believe a new campus is the best approach we can take to solve this issue.
Statistics and research from other churches show us that on average, the year a church starts another campus, they experience 28 percent growth in that multi-site, and 20 percent growth in the second year. Because of this anticipated growth, we need to make sure we have the right pieces in place to be able to move forward with that strategy, which leads us to our objectives for the next three months.
Our 90-day objectives for Jan.1-March 31, 2017 are as follows:
- Develop Leaders: Create a leadership development process. First group by Feb. 28. Second group by April 9.
Phillip Herring, our associate pastor of education, is developing a leadership training process for First Baptist Norfolk. We want everyone to be a part of this process, but we will take our staff through it first, and they will finish the training by Feb. 28. The second group will be volunteer church members that God has called to be a part of the new campus so that we can have a leadership core prepared to serve at our satellite location.
- Select Campus Location: Call the church to join in a prayer journey for God to open door of opportunity for a campus location.
We do not yet have a location for our satellite campus — we are dependent on what God opens up for us. However, we are considering Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, since this is where the majority of our members reside, and our new location will accommodate growth. We are looking for a location we can lease for a period of time and develop a full ministry there. Future satellites may be in locations where we do not have a presence of many current church members.
On Jan. 8, we will begin a prayer journey together as a church for this new advance. First, pray that God would open the door for the right location for our satellite campus. Second, pray that God would call out individuals and families to be a part of that location.
- Develop Communication Plan: Develop a compelling communication plan to tell the story of First Norfolk Advance to the church and community.
We need to communicate these big changes within the framework of our body of believers: how we’re doing, what we’re doing, etc. This blog is going to be important source for updates going forward. An unexpected outcome of the highway construction is that now that the trees are cut down, our church is very visible from the interstate. What a window of opportunity to be seen by many at this crossroads of our Hampton Roads community!
- Select Leadership/Core Team: Beginning Jan. 8, call the church to pray that God would call out individuals and families to go on mission to a new campus. Have initial leadership and core team in place by Feb. 5.
We ask that you pray and ask God if you should become a part of our new campus. We will be multiplying our leadership in order to facilitate this new location, but we are not multiplying our staff. This embodies Ephesians 4:12, which speaks of equipping the saints for the work of ministry — this means our church members. However, we will not be “recruiting” anyone for the new location. We are trusting God to orchestrate who goes and who stays at each location.
On Jan. 8 — or even before — please join us in praying for our First Norfolk Advance.
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.
“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:
- 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.
First Norfolk Advance: Between January and December 2017, we will launch a campus in our multi-site strategy.
- 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)