Friday, August 26, 2011

Young families respond to questions

Ask Second Church members questions and you'll get answers -- thoughtful, insightful and helpful answers at that.

Some of the crowd at the Rock home Aug. 20
That's what the GPS team did last Saturday, Aug. 20, when some of us gathered with young Second Church families at the home of Paul and Stacey Rock.

Their answers will help guide the GPS as we work toward a 3- to 5-year plan for the church. Here they are:

Answers in response to what Second does best:

  • We do worship well and offer alternative times.

  • Godly Play is a great program. Keep it.

  • We have lots of great mission partners to get involved with.

  • The Wednesdays Together programs have helped keep people active and connected to others in the church.

  • Second does well at getting people involved in ministries of the church without being coercive.

  • The many groups that exist in the church offer ways to connect.

  • Allowing people to come to church in more casual dress is helpful.

  • The children’s programming beyond Sunday School, such as kids choir and including kids in worship services. We do well with young kids.

  • We do community well and are good at welcoming new members

  • Our sermon series. Relevant to all members.

  • We welcome a diverse membership.

  • We have an excellent music program.

  • Second does well marking and celebrating the seasons of our liturgical year.

  • Welcoming, nurturing and familial ministries.

Answers in response to the question about what Second should be doing that it’s not or doing better:

  • Programming for older children, especially teens, needs to be improved. Young families want their children to go off to college thinking about where to find a church there.

  • Second appeals to people who understand church but does less well with welcoming people who are mostly clueless about church.

  • Second members sometimes ignore new members and seems unfriendly to seekers. People of various age groups should be intentionally assigned to greet anyone in the service they don’t know.

  • Some ideas for educating our children better:
--      Sunday School needs to start earlier. Age 3 and up.
--     More engaging curriculum for all levels of children education. 
--     Have Sunday School during one of the worship services to allow parents to enjoy service without children and make Sunday mornings not a 4-hour routine.
--     Provide a Questionnaire/Survey for Parents of Children grades 3-7, to complete with their children asking about ideas for a more engaging and exciting Sunday School experience. The idea behind this is two-fold. First, it would allow us to provide a better experience the children would enjoy being a part of, thus keeping them involved in the church through high school, college and beyond.

  • Provide more interactive mission work for all ages. That would provides togetherness amongst members and community

  • Better communication across the board

Answers in response to the question of what Second needs to do to survive and thrive:

  • If we take on ministries requiring major commitments, we need to make it known in the community that we’re doing that.

  • We must make sure that our contributions to programs and ministries outside our church walls are visible to people who are served by or who walk through those facilities.

  • Let’s think about what the community needs and wants from our church building, such as a cafĂ©, a meditation or reading room, things for kids to do, etc.

  • We need to send postcards or other communications to people living near our church asking for their ideas.

Answers in response to the question about roadblocks that might keep us from getting to where we want to be:

  • We might rely too much on our history — which is to say, having too much pride in our history and not enough focus on our future.

  • We might be thinking too small.

  • We’d hurt ourselves if we ignore the suburbs as a place from which to draw members.

  • If we can’t find ways to engage and keep our members in their 20s and 30s, we’ll be in trouble.

  • We’d make a big mistake by not finding ways to get connected to UMKC in some prominent and intentional way. (Mostly this doesn’t mean expecting students and faculty to show up at Second but finding ways for us to be on campus.)

  • We’d injure our future if we didn’t consider some alternative worship service times and styles.

Answers in responses to the question of how we can find and develop resources needed to achieve our dreams:

  • ConnectFest is a good start, but some people just need to be asked.

  • Let’s explore and develop opportunities to contribute our time, such as painting a room or helping with grounds-keeping.

  • Because people give to things that excite them, we need to motivate them to consolidate giving to Second in a focused way.

  • We need to consider creating a marketing/publicity plan or program.

And, finally, here’s a “wish list”

--      Provide a contemporary, or alternative, service
--      How about a Saturday Evening service?
--      Church Night for all once a week for Christian education and community service
--      Shorter services (45 minutes)
--      A workout facility/gym at the church
--      Village U type offerings (walk/jog, handworks, bible study)
--      A children’s indoor play gym (i.e. McDonald’s)
--      A coffee shop

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meeting at our mission partners' sites

As the GPS team seeks to suggest a map to Second's future, we thought it was important that we not do all that work inside the walls of the church.

After all, if we keep our faith secluded, whose lives will we touch?

So we held our Aug. 17 meeting in the boardroom at Hope Care Center, the 24-hour skilled nursing facility for HIV/AIDS patients that Second helped to create in the mid-1990s.

Mike McTavish, Hope Care's CEO, was more than gracious in allowing us use of the facility, and even provided a tour for those on the GPS who had never visited Hope Care.

As we continue our work, we'll look for more opportunities to gather at the site of one or another of our mission partners.

Let us know if you want to suggest one. Just leave a comment here, e-mail or drop a note off in the church file folder of GPS moderator Bill Tammeus.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Witherspoon class responds

On Sunday, Aug. 14, the GPS asked members of the Witherspoon class to respond to some of the questions we're asking of the whole congregation.

Here were some of the responses to the question of what Second does best:

  • Lives in harmony with a theologically and political diverse congregation.

  • Owns a structure in a great location from which to do ministry.

  • We take some public stands on social issues but not enough.

  • We’re good at giving financially to support the church but not good enough. We need more emphasis on tithing.

  • We have a good reputation for being involved in the community and being present with others in need.

  • We know our fellow members well, but not well enough.

  • Second is a very welcoming church. (Said by a member who moved away from KC once and later came back.)

  • We know we need to do better in different areas and we are not uncomfortable talking about that need or considering new ideas.

  • The church historically is good at empowering individuals to do ministry in the community – whether done under the banner of Second or not.

  • Our biblical literacy has improved remarkably under the teaching of Don Fisher.

  • We maintain our building well, not just for ourselves but also for use by the community.

  • The congregation is filled with people of many talents – so much so that in some ways leaders feel as if they’re herding cats because sometimes it’s hard to get so many talented leaders to get behind one decision.

And here's what Witherspoon attendees said in response to the question of what Second needs to change or transform to survive and thrive.

  • We need to do better with stewardship of finances and talents.

  • We must do a lot better with internal and external communications at all levels.

  • We must do better giving public recognition to the valuable ministries people do and being much more consistent about that. (George Dooley’s  Messenger items are a step in the right direction.)

  • Our youth programs need attention and fixing.

  • We must get over our fear of change.

  • We need to figure out – and be consistent with – our relationship with UMKC, not expecting students to come in our doors but expecting us to go out our doors and over to campus when it’s appropriate.

  • We must find better ways of discovering and harnessing the talents and gifts of our members.

  • We must learn how to adapt to our coming new software system and use it to communicate better and be more efficient in all kinds of ways.

  • Our expanded small-groups effort is going well and needs to be even more of an emphasis.

  • We should be bringing in outside speakers of national note and hosting big events for the whole community. This point raised complaints about our failure to use the Hage Endowment Fund much in recent years.
If you have your own responses, please e-mail us at or put a note in the church file folder of GPS moderator Bill Tammeus. And thanks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Questions for the church

At the Witherspoon Class this Sunday, Aug. 14, representatives of the GPS (God's Purpose for Second) task force will be present to engage class members in a conversation about some of these questions:

*     What is Second best at?
*     What does Second need to do or transform to survive and thrive?
*     What are the potential roadblocks that might keep Second from getting where we want to go?
*     What’s the one thing you wish Second were doing that we're not doing or could be doing better?
*     How can we find and develop the resources to achieve our dreams?
*     Are there additional human resources within the present membership that can be reached and tapped?
*     How do we balance the risk of moving too aggressively with change against the risk of not moving quickly enough or far enough?
*     What and where are the successful models to which we can refer? And how do we assess whether those would be the appropriate models for Second?
*     How much weight do we give to the potential alienation of members who may feel that “progress” is not what they are after?

We'd love to hear your answers to any or all of these questions. You may leave comments here, send e-mail to or drop a note in the church file folder of GPS moderator Bill Tammeus. And thanks.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Help us answer this: Why do people need Jesus?

The full GPS (it stands for God's Purpose for Second) task force spent some six hours on Saturday (Aug. 6) getting started on the task of drafting a map into Second's future.

It was a full day of conversation about what Second does well and about who we are as a congregation. But it also was a day to take several steps back and ask ourselves a foundational question for members of a Christian church: Why is Jesus important? Why, in other words, do people need Jesus?

As Paul Rock said to us Saturday, if we who are members of the church can't provide a coherent and even cogent answer to that question, why would we imagine anyone would want to join us as a member?

Well, we came up with quite a few answers, and we moved toward being able to articulate a foundational statement about the purpose of church as a guide for the rest of our work.

But we'd also really like to hear your response to the Jesus question.

I, Bill Tammeus, GPS moderator, will get that started by offering one of the things I said in response to the question: People need Jesus to transform their lives by introducing them to the kingdom, or reign, of God. At the very beginning of Jesus' ministry he proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand and is something we can experience at least a bit of even in the midst of our brokenness.

OK. Your turn. Leave us your comments here in response to this vital question. And thanks for helping us..

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New member -- and getting to work

For a wonderful reason, Maggie McGuire has stepped down from the GPS Task Force. She just got engaged and is planning a May wedding, which doesn't leave her enough time to devote to the strategic planning work of Second.

As we all wish Maggie well, we welcome as a new GPS member Anne Hasselberg, who has been at Second for several years and who currently serves on the Buildings and Grounds Committee.

The GPS group will hold a full-day working meeting this Saturday at the church to begin the heavy lifting that we'll be doing through the end of the year. We ask for your prayers and continue to seek your comments and questions, which you may send to Or you may put a note in the church file folder of GPS moderator Bill Tammeus.