God-Sized Vision Discovery Dinners – Part 2

In February, many of the members of our congregation gathered in homes to enjoy dinner and a discussion about their vision of the future of Tabernacle. This is part two of a series of articles about what you said, focusing on the second question of three.  That question was, “How do you see us as we move forward?”   Your responses helped us gain current insight into your thoughts about the future of our spiritual mission, as well as possible changes to the physical layout of our buildings.  We sincerely appreciate everyone’s honest exchange about the wonderful potential that we have ahead!

Most of the answers to the question about what you think is at the heart of our future growth seemed to fit several categories:  spiritual mission, nature of the congregation, diversity, and building changes.  Our spiritual mission is obviously at the core of your focus, including comments such as:

  • Maintain our core services of the food pantry and clothes closet.  Keep the Fan Feast and our Thanksgiving baskets going.
  • Agreed we are moving in the right direction – want us to continue investing in children and youth and walking beside brothers and sisters that have resettled in Richmond as refugees.
  • Keep the sponsorship of seminary students and their housing
  • Consider Gap group—between youth/young adults and the seniors—how we continue to grow by engaging folks of all ages; consider more programs for our teenagers.
  • Reach out to the immediate community – be more assertive about engaging the neighborhood and environs and VCU; consider “Coffeehouse” evangelism with music and fellowship.

As mentioned before, your outlook for our future is a positive one!  There is such a comfort level with the welcoming nature of our church, as well as the cultural diversity of our congregation.  As one member said, “The Burmese are not “our ministry” anymore; they are ‘us’.”  Additional comments about what we might do to build on our current sense of congregation as we go forward include:

  • Translate sermons into Burmese and other foreign languages; include multilingual graphics in our classes and sermons.
  • Continue making children integral to church life and worship.
  • Seek & promote ways to foster deeper personal relationships.
  • Bring new people in by invitation of the members, as we do today—our congregation is relationship-based.
  • Consider the place of our Childcare Center in life of the church – ways to purposefully reach out to these folks and be inclusive with activities.

When it comes to how we think about facility changes as a part of our future, we are ready for just that—change.   Many of you are interested in more details about those plans.  The blueprints and how we prioritize the modifications we make are topics that we will delve into in the months ahead.  Our focus today is to be sure that the kinds of changes we envision are ones that support our spiritual mission, both current and future.  Over the past eight years we have thought through how we could best use our existing space and modify that space to provide flexible use as we grow in our spiritual mission.  We measured rooms and hallways to help us begin the process of estimating possible construction costs.  Now we are on the verge of making it happen!  Your suggestions for how we approach finalizing building-related changes include:

  • Find ways to maximize the use of the Grove Avenue entrance while making the Meadow Street entrance more appealing.
  • We need to address having a more secure entrance or our Childcare Center and universal access to our church facilities for persons with special needs.
  • It is good to provide housing for seminary students and visiting mission teams.
  • Make sure we ensure flexibility within our facilities to implement new and existing church programs and activities.
  • See if we can address parking as we grow.

Our next article will cover the responses you gave to the final question we asked at our Discover Dinners—“How does the community see the church?”  Again, we are grateful for your input and interest as our future unfolds!    Everyone is integral to our success.

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