2021 Vision Process

2021 began with our Church Council and Deacons working together to identify the Vision & Goals for our church family this year. They identified five areas of emphasis and presented these to the congregation in a called church conference on January 17, 2021.

Vision and Goals for 2021
Spiritual Growth and Discipleship
– Emphasizing Bible Study, prayer, and spiritual practices to ground us in these tumultuous times
Closer While Apart
– Nurturing relationships and small groups to connect us spiritually during times of physical distancing
Words into Action
– Seeking concrete ways to enact our faith commitments, so that our actions reflect who we are
Welcoming Our Neighbors
– Making space to invite our neighbors into our building and into our fellowship
An Eye to the Future
– Imagining together how the post-COVID world will look for churches and preparing to engage this reality effectively

During the month of February, we took steps to begin the process of imagining what our congregation might do now in order to prepare for the future of UBC. Our Senior Pastor, Dr. Matthew Tennant, spoke with more than 80 church members in a series of group and individual Community Conversations. He asked everyone the same set of questions:

  • What do you think organized religion will look like in the future? What does UBC look like in 5, 10, & 20 years?
  • What is God saying to us right now? What are we learning?
  • What changes do we need to make? What has the pandemic freed us to do? Is there anything we did before the pandemic that we don’t need to do in the future?
  • What needs to remain the same? What have you been missing?
  • How can we prepare for what’s next? What steps bring us closer to God’s dream for UBC?

At the end of these conversations, our ministerial staff went over the answers together and found common themes. Listed below are the Insights and Action Plans for 2021 based on the feedback from our congregation.

Community Conversation Insights and Action Plans for 2021

We all greatly miss the sense of community from being together in person.

  • As the pandemic eases, plan multiple opportunities for in-person fellowship, including cookouts, Wednesday night dinners, and potluck meals
  • Emphasize small groups–not just on Sunday mornings–to provide connection for church members and entry points for new members
  • Facilitate intergenerational fellowship and friendship

We must commit ourselves to outreach.

  • Open sanctuary during the week
  • Give away coffee, ice cream, etc. in front of the church
  • Make stickers, yard signs, banners for the church property, for handing out to the public, and for church members to use
  • Pursue new piano as centerpiece of new piano concert series
  • Keep finding new ways to utilize our building in support of the community

We must be nimble and open to change, maintaining a bold, hopeful, “why not?” attitude, while remaining true to our identity as University Baptist Church.

  • Clarify our affiliations (e.g., join the Alliance of Baptists) and communicate clearly our identity (signage, bulletin, website, social media)
  • During JARC process, ensure our documents reflect our identity
  • Maintain an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to experiment in worship, in outreach, and in our fellowship activities.

We cherish UBC’s meaningful worship services on Sunday mornings.

  • Maintain a strong music program and choir, with worship that connects us with God and one another
  • Continue including members and friends through videos during worship
  • Host additional conversations about worship and music at UBC

We should retain the technological tools we’ve gained during the pandemic. 

  • Continue to have a virtual option to participate in worship, Bible study, and meetings.
  • Receive the offering online and by mail, rather than passing the plates
  • Portable screens remain in the sanctuary so that we can include the members of our congregation who are not physically present

We must be engaged with the current issues in our community and world.

  • Host honest, challenging conversations about the issues
  • Serve as agents of God’s love and justice by participating in PACEM, IMPACT, OIAM, Love INC, AIM, and other endeavors to address income inequality, housing instability, hunger, and racial injustice

We want to grow and are willing to endure some discomfort and change, as long as we are remaining faithful to who God has called us to be.

  • Prioritize welcoming and incorporating visitors and new members—even when this requires prioritizing it over something else
  • For each of us: make UBC the place we’d want to invite our friends and strangers alike (if it isn’t already), and then invite them!
  • Pray and trust in God’s future for UBC

To view a more detailed five page summary of our Community Conversations, click here. The full seventeen pages of Dr. Tennant’s notes from the Community Conversations is available here, with all names and identifying information redacted.