St Stephen United Methodist Church

Mission Values Vision and Strategy

 Our Mission

The St Stephen United Methodist Church Mission Statement

Our mission here at SSUMC is, “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and the world.”

This mission statement is very similar to the mission statement of the United Methodist church.  The only difference is that we also focus on our local community.  It’s kind of like the ripples effect when you toss a pebble out in the middle of a pond.

As United Methodists, we take Jesus’ words very serious.  For it was he who gave us the Great Commission when he told his apostle’s to, “go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Because God first loves us (1 John 4:19), we are able to express God’s love by being the feet, the hands and voice of Jesus Christ.  We have all been called to serve in the church and we are all given spiritual gifts to achieve our mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and the world.” Yes we repeated it, so it must be important.

Our Core Values

The Core Values of Saint Stephen United Methodist Church are:  Love, Worship, Generosity, and Spiritual Growth.

 Love: In our church, we are discovering a new way of life; a life of true love because God is love (1 John 4:8).  Words that come to mind as we think about love and grow into love are – Kindness, Radical Hospitality (Romans 15:7), Justice (Isaiah 1:17), Unconditional (John 13:34-35).  We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).  Here at Saint Stephen UMC we want everyone to experience this amazing love of God’s.  We seek to help others answer God’s call to them, to come and have a relationship with the one true God who loves them and who has sacrificed for them.  This is a love that does not condemn but saves (John 3:16-17).

Worship: While we sometimes fall short, we strive to anticipate each worship event as if it were Christmas Eve and Easter all molded into one.  We worship with a new found passion. We seek to experience God and make God the focus of our attention rather than ourselves.  We hope for a worship experience that creates a hospitable atmosphere where all, especially the Triune God  feel welcome (Deuteronomy 24:19-22). We delight in displaying adoration through words, visuals, “smells and bells” song and physical presence (Psalm 100).  Our worship is participatory and experiential.  Our messages are biblically based and point to the gospel of Jesus Christ, in such a way that you won’t leave feeling undermined, or belittled.  In other words, our hope is that everyone, including the pastor will learn something from scripture as a result of the sermon.  Please bring a Bible to follow along the message.  Bible apps on cell phones and notebooks are encouraged.  If you don’t have a Bible, please let an usher know, so we can accommodate you.

Generosity: Words that support our core value of generosity are Service, we want to share our time and energy in ways that model the Way of Jesus (John 13:1-8).  Offering – at this church, we bring our offerings forward and place them in the baskets before the altar (Matthew 5:24). This is what Jesus asked us to do, and what the ancient church practiced.  It is by doing this, we are not only bringing our financial gifts forward, but ourselves, as this is what God really wants – us. God wants our hurts, our brokenness and our joy and elation we bring this to the altar along with our prayers.  Tithes – God said, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10 NLT).  The true meaning of Tithe is to give 10% of your income to the church, which means back to God. We realize this may be difficult to do, or even accept, but this is a Spiritual practice that we can strive to achieve.  Many people who do this realize the abundant blessings that come from the practice of generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11).  As a church, we want to share our time, financial gifts, talents and service with God, each other, and the community and world.

Spiritual Growth: The coffee served here at SSUMC is great, and so are the snacks, but we realize that people want a whole lot more out of the church than a great cup of coffee.  We hold this value to the highest regard, as we here at SSUMC exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  That takes growth -spiritual growth.  As United Methodists, we tap into our heritage as we begin to discover and practice what the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley called the “Means of Grace.” These are Corporate Worship, partaking in the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism, the Study of Scripture, Acts of Mercy, Tithing, Prayer and Fasting. These practices grow our faith, and draw us closer to God, as we experience and grow into God’s generous love for all of humanity.  When we look at the early church, we can see a tried and true model of making disciples in Acts 2: 38-47.

Our Vision

The Vision is a tangible set of steps we will take to achieve our mission.  A vision shows us what living out the mission looks like. It involves listening to God, the leaders and other people of the congregation, the study of Scripture, hearing the needs of the community, and fasting.  As a result of the before mentioned steps, the pastor shared the following vision in October 2016.

  1. Utilizing Matthew 18 and Titus 3, we will clearly communicate boundaries for how we treat each other – what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable…

2. We will develop a clear communication process that includes rebranding with new logos, new website, bulletins and newsletters and other ways to communicate. We will also establish a           communication policy.

3. Develop a clear and concise path to discipleship. If we are going to make disciples we must ensure that everyone is able to clearly communicate who to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ and make new disciples.

4. Building new leadership – this must be ongoing. Nominations team and pastor of connections along with the lead pastor will continue to determine how we will go about accomplishing this. The process will include:

    1. Strength finders 2.0 Paid and unpaid staff as well as leaders.
    2. Spiritual gifts all staff and leaders
    3. raise expectations to that of membership requirements as stated in UMC Hymnal pg. 48
    4. offer clear guidelines for ministry positions
    5. all paid staff to be Certified Lay Servants

5. Shift from multi-level leadership to a One-Board Model.

6. As a church we will be intentional about creating a culture of “Call” to ministry.

7. Finance – we will work towards better education from church leadership about church stewardship, and we will align the ways we do church finance so that it is more in alignment with the polity of the United Methodist Church. We will live towards becoming e a people who strive to tithe, knowing that this will support the mission of the church.

8. Out Reach – globally and locally by: Getting a sister church in Mozambique. Grow our current ministries as well as new out reach ministries to our community. r

9. Conduct youth group meetings in the 30/30/30 format. (30 minutes of worship, 30 minutes of Bible devotion, 30 minutes of just plain fun. We will see to it that more adults get involved in the program. We will work with an area school.

10. Worship – Being of One ACCord and one mind, we will shift from two different worship services to one Convergent Worship service, understanding that this will draw us together as one, and realizing and admitting that God loves all worship styles so long as we worship God to the very best of our abilities.

Our Strategy – How to Grow a Church and Go -….

 “WE GROW SPIRITUALLY!” That’s our strategy.  When the people of the congregation grow spiritually, their passion to make new disciples of Jesus is contagious!  They respond to the the grace that God has blessed us with through Jesus Christ.

Church —- are you ready to grow spiritually?  Here are a few simple steps.

  1. The people of a growing church are passionate about their relationship with Jesus.  For them, he is the be all and the end all.  He is the King of Kings, their Lord and Savior.  People who are passionate about Jesus know that because he lives they live.  For them, while life can be hard and difficult at times, there is still JOY!  They have experienced the Kingdom of God NOW, and they understand that when they pass on, they will enter God’s Kingdom forever!

2. The people of a growing church live out the Means of Grace! These are spiritual disciplines that draw us closer to an awareness of who God is. They help us to become more like Jesus and they open our hearts to the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.  THE MEANS OF GRACE ARE:

    1. The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
    2. Bible Study
    3. Corporate Worship
    4. Prayer
    5. Fasting
    6. Healthy Living
    7. Holy Conversation
    8. Tithing
    9. Acts of Mercy

3. The people of a growing church ABSOLUTELY know what one must do to be saved. They can recite their testimony as well as offer a few Bible passages to support their understanding.  For example: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and your soul and your neighbor as yourself (LK 10:25-28)Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-41)”. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (EPH 2:8-9). Everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life (JN 3:16). Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (ROM 10:8-9). Everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved”(ROM 10:13).” When was it that you turned your will and your life over to the care of Jesus?

4. The people of a growing church are AUTHENTIC! They readily admit their faults and they are willing to allow others to point out their sins as a way to hold them accountable, relevant and to grow in faith.  They know they don’t have all of the answers, but God does.  And by the way… it is God who is in charge.

5.The people of a growing church are TEACHABLE. They understand that they can’t possibly know everything and are willing to learn more about Jesus and His church. So join a small group!!!!

So that’s it!  Easy Peasy!  So are you ready get into the business of growing.  There are a ton of people in the congregation who are doing this and it is amazing to watch the growth!

Peace be with you,

Pastor Bill