Campus Catalyst/Church Conference Recap: Our Next 90-Day Objectives

img_2563On 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.

Progress of Our 90-Day Objectives

Pastor Eric Thomas opened the March 12 Campus Catalyst Town Hall Meeting with prayer and a recap of our church’s current situation. Of course, the VDOT highway construction is presenting some obstacles to our church (construction zones close to our building, loss of parking, increased traffic on highways, etc.). However, we believe that because we are people of faith, these changes are not accidental or a twist of fate, but rather something God has orchestrated for the good of this church family and the good of the mission God has given us as the church. So then, we rejoice in this part of the journey God has given us.

In light of these changes, our Vision Team created “First Norfolk Advance,” our ten-year ministry strategy. This includes our one-year goal and 90-day objectives, which Pastor Eric discussed during the evening’s meeting. Although church leadership does not have all of the answers right now, they are working on next steps and will share news as they are able.

First, Pastor Eric addressed the difference between a church plant and a campus since there has been some confusion on the matter. Part of our ten-year vision is: “starting ten campuses in Hampton Roads and planting twenty new churches around the world.” These are two distinctly different things. A church plant is an autonomous, independent church. We partner with church planters as they pursue their vision for that community, such as our current church planter partnerships in places like Montreal and South Dakota.

A satellite campus is where First Norfolk will start a full church service and “mission center” in the neighborhoods of the seven cities of Hampton Roads. Our goal is 10 satellite campuses that are tied to First Baptist Norfolk in the next 10 years that cover much of the seven cities. These satellite campuses are an extension of and will be tied to First Baptist Norfolk.

Our first satellite campus will be a bit different than the ones to come. Right now, because of the VDOT highway construction, it is a challenge to reach new people at our current 312 Kempsville Road location. Visitors may be put off by the limited parking or seeing large construction equipment all around our building. Pastor Eric stressed that we must remember our mission as a church is always to reach new people. Because of the longevity of the construction process, the Vision Team and staff believe it is important to start a new campus in 2017, which will help us reach new people with a greater ease.

For the past several months, leadership has been pursuing a location for the new campus. Pastor Eric said they are very close to being able to share the new campus location they are discussing. He also said in his research, he found the exciting statistic that on average, 28% growth in reaching people happens during the first year of a satellite, and about 20% growth in the second year. That would be “astronomical” for a church of our size.

Second, Pastor Eric discussed the 90-day objectives (Jan. 1-March 31). We have made great progress on some of these, while others still have steps to go. Here is the status of each objective:

  1. Develop Leaders

This objective was to not only develop leaders for a new satellite campus, but within our church. Phillip Herring, associate pastor of education, and team developed a “leadership process” training that just finished its pilot program that included 32 people. After some evaluation and fine-tuning, they will begin to train others in the church through this leadership development pipeline.

  1. Select Campus Location

Negotiations are in the works for our satellite location. The team is being intentional to seek what doors God is opening. The original goal was to launch the new campus the week after Easter, however, God is moving on His own timeline. Pray that God opens the door to the right opportunity so that we as a church can fulfill the mission He has given us — to see more people in Hampton Roads come to faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. Develop Communication Plan

Steve Harper, minister of media and communication, and a team are working on this. Currently this blog is a main way to communicate updates, but there will be more avenues of communication in the future.

  1. Select Leadership/Core Team

Initially, because our timeline was to launch the new campus the week after Easter, we had the objective of identifying the leadership core team by Feb. 5. However, since the launch has been delayed, the core team has not yet been identified. Pastor Eric said some people have already told him they feel called to be on mission at the new location. We need to continue praying that more people would feel called to go and serve in the new campus. The 21 Days of Prayer initiative was a good beginning, but we need to enter into another season of prayer over the new campus and its leadership core team.

These first 90 days are coming to an end on March 31, and our staff is developing objectives for the next 90 days. We will let you know of those new objectives through our blog and other Campus Catalyst meetings.

After answering questions from the crowd (the answers to many of these can be found in our Campus Catalyst FAQ in this blog post), Pastor Eric closed the meeting by asking for prayer on these specific requests:

  1. Pray for God’s glory to shine through us to the seven cities.
  2. Pray that hundreds of people far from God would be saved during this journey.
  3. Pray for the Campus location.
  4. Pray for VDOT negotiations.