Methodology of SMR

In conducting the Shared Ministry Review, the team will make the best use of information that has already been gathered and it will solicit additional, relevant, input. The 20/20 Visioning document that obtained ideas and aspirations from a significant portion of the parish last year, the Annual Reports of First Parish and several evaluative efforts will be included in this analysis. We will post these documents for the congregation to view, again.

In conducting its work, the SMR committee will:

  1. Work in three sub-groups: Finance, Operations, Spiritual Life;
  2. Meet monthly as a whole committee;
  3. Gather objective data so that there is a common set of facts and information;
  4. Identify and inventory existing policies and procedures;
  5. Compare the church to itself to identify recent trends and make comparisons to a few, appropriate, peers in order to bench-mark performance;
  6. Conduct three Open Meetings with the congregation. One to address Finance, a second Organizational Structure and a third Spiritual Life. These meetings will provide and solicit information;
  7. Conduct a number of interviews with Stakeholder Groups (e.g., Choir, Deacons, PC, Small Groups, RE, Outreach, Care).
  8. Interviews will follow an Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider, DL, & Whitney, D., 2005)

This method of data gathering asks three questions: What do you personally value about First Parish? Where would you like to see First Parish be in three years? What do we need to do to get there?

9. Interview the professional staff with the same Appreciative Inquiry Model; and

10. Invite comments from individual parishioners.

The Finance Subcommittee will insure that FPL’s financial information is available and accurate so that parishioners can share the same set of facts. It will compare the church’s financials across five years and reference those of several bench-mark parishes. Relative to its recent history and to successful peers, this committee will ask, among other things:

  1. How strong are the church’s financials (e.g., Assets, Income Generation, Expense Management) at this moment and in the near term;
  2. Are we protected against risk (e.g., Investment Strategy, Insurances);
  3. Do our Financial Processes and Infrastructure contribute to: best use of resources, congregational confidence, exchange of information, staff/volunteer efficiency;
  4. Are the volunteer and staff resources sufficient to meet fiduciary responsibilities and congregational expectations?

The Operations Subcommittee will collect and review the documents that outline parish policies, procedures, committee charges. It will ask, among other questions:

  1. Does the current organizational structure of FPL facilitate its governance;
  2. How are decisions made and how well are they carried out;
  3. How do the various aspects of the organization (e.g., Administration, Staff, PC, Stakeholder Groups, Congregation) work independently and with each other;
  4. Is information shared in an effective and efficient manner within the church community;
  5. Does the church have the right policies, procedures, staffing in place to support operations;
  6. How are volunteers attracted, oriented and supported in their service;
  7. What do the Staff of FPL value about their roles, desire for the near future, and identify as paths to get there;
  8. How does FPL’s governance, communications and operations compare to best practices as shown by several peers?

The Spiritual Life Subcommittee will review the state and quality of our Worship Services and Ministry (e.g., RE, Care, Outreach). It will address among other questions:

  1. How does First Parish express its Covenant and Call to Ministry in concrete terms through priorities and programs;
  2. How is the congregation experiencing the Sunday Worship Service (Preaching, Music, Deacons, Leadership);
  3. What do members appreciate and what do they desire of the pastor, deacons, volunteers and others involved in FPL’s spiritual life;
  4. What are the aims, aspirations and needs of the Service Ministries (R.E., Outreach, Care, Small Groups);
  5. How is the church presenting itself to the outside and how does it stewarding new members;
  6. How are volunteers invited, engaged and trained?

Open Meetings will take place on March 4 (Finance), March 18 (Organization), April 8 (Worship)

Time Table:

Data and Document Gathering (January/February)

Comparative analysis: FPL to FPL across time, FPL to 5 Peers (February)

Interviewing: Small Groups, Staff (February, March, April)

Individual Meetings (March)

Whole Church Meetings (March, April)

Analysis and Writing (May)

Presentation to PC, Pastor and Deacons (End May)

Presentation to FPL (End May)

This exercise will endeavor to focus on the church’s blessings and aspirations and it intends to listen closely to FPL’s challenges in an effort to build upon strengths, make improvements where possible and reconcile differences and disappointments in order to strengthen the spiritual life of the First Parish in Lincoln.