It was a monumental Session meeting this month. We culminated what has been about a three year process. It started with a small task force that was commissioned to develop a first draft of our church's core values and purpose statement. Core values describe the best of an existing culture for a particular organization. They help define how the group does what it does. The purpose statement describes why the particular organization exists in a way that inspires and guides its work.
The task force came back to the Session with some superb work, but it got sidelined because of some other more pressing matters in the church. In the beginning of 2013 we dusted off their work and began thinking about a process for the Session to grapple with it. In May of 2013 we (Session) moved that work to the top of our agenda. We spent hours deliberating about who we've been, and who we are, and who we want to be. We dove deeply into important words like gospel, leadership, mission, community, membership, redemption, transformation, unity, legacy, and vision. In January, at the congregational meeting, we asked for your input on core values that you have experienced. Your feedback was wonderfully helpful. Since then we've been refining how we would describe our core values so that they could be accurate and easy to remember. They also needed to be connected with a prayerfully discerned, biblically based, and inspiring purpose statement. This was the primary work of our recent Session retreat. Finally, at our May 2014 Session meeting, we voted to approve our purpose statement and core values.
I couldn't have been more grateful to the Lord for His work through this leadership community of Session members. This wasn't a quick process of finding some new words for the web-site that we'll soon forget about; this was a painstaking work of discerning together God's will for these defining statements. I believe wholeheartedly that God will use this work and these words to guide us into His future. And it's already happening. The Community Building Initiative, which you've been hearing about for the past several weeks, is deeply connected with our core values and purpose statement.
So, now what? This Sunday, during the education hour, please join us for the First Pres Forum in the Fellowship Hall. We'll begin to lay out the core values and first phase of the Community Building Initiative. Next week (June 8) I'll talk about the purpose statement.
I know that some of you are serving during that hour (thanks so much for serving Christ in His church). So, we're working on a way to record it, and make it available to those who can't be there. Plus, I'll continue to address these matters during worship on Sunday mornings.
Here's what you can do to prepare for that conversation. First, pray. Ask God to have His way with FPC Fresno. Thank God for His work through our Session and His call on our lives together. Surrender yourself afresh to Him. Second, spend a few minutes thinking about these questions: Why does FPC Fresno exist? What results are we after for God's Kingdom? What does the Bible say about the mission or purpose of the local church? How might we best structure ourselves to be effective for that purpose?
Beloved, these are exciting times. God is doing a work of healing and renewal in our church. I am so grateful to Him and to you for calling me to serve with you in this particular season of First Pres Fresno. Let us trust in God together for His will to be done in us.