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.

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)