Parish to Envision Future with Consultant’s Aid

At its June meeting, the Christ Church Vestry voted unanimously to engage the consultant Kairos and Associates to guide the parish in a process that will help it discover and claim a fresh vision of the mission of the church. The initiative will begin in September and conclude with a report to the Annual Meeting in January. The consultant will collect opinions from congregation and Needham community members on a wide range of topics, through an online survey, individual meetings and group meetings. The result will be a report that explores the factors that motivate the congregation. Ultimately, members will be invited to act on these insights. 

Please see the Q&A below for more information about this project.

Why did Vestry decide we needed to explore who we are?

The arrival of a new rector is a good time to take the pulse of the parish as she, or in this case, he forms his ideas and goals for his tenure. As a parish, we have not done something like this for over 25 years. Knowing who we are and what motivates us, individually and collectively, allows us to harness our energies to advance the missions most dear to us. The process allows all to be heard in a caring, frank and thoughtful process. This process is an investment in Christ Church’s future and will help us learn how to best use our gifts to carry out Christ’s mission on earth.

Why don’t we do this work ourselves without using a consultant and incurring costs?

Honestly, we can’t do this task ourselves for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, we don’t have the skills or tools to do this effectively. The process, which we will explain, involves the collection and analysis of data collected from the congregation and which is also the compared to background and other information from around the country. Second, the process is best done by a disinterested outsider, who doesn’t have any internal agenda or biases. Using an outsider allows each voice to be heard in an open and honest manner. Most important, having an evidence-based report on who were are and what motivates us as a congregation, provides the Clergy, the Wardens and the Vestry with information that can and will inform their decisions as we move forward.

How was Kairos selected as the consultant?

After researching a variety of consultants, Nick narrowed down the field to three. He and Lynn eliminated one after an initial interview, followed by reference checks, showed the firm lacked the ability to conduct an in-depth listening process. Thereafter, two groups, Kairos and Associates and the Episcopal Church Foundation, were invited to make presentations to the Vestry and the Finance Committee and other groups any other interested parishioners within the Church. The dates were well publicized. Additionally, Nick called a number of congregations across the country to discuss the consultants and their experiences with them. Over two months, the Vestry deliberated the issues of whether to retain a consultant and, if so, which one. Based on the interviews and the feedback from other congregations about both the process and the consultants, the Vestry unanimously voted to engage Kairos. Kairos is experienced working with religious congregations and copies of comments from others who worked with Kairos are available in the office. They combine responsible use of the tools of social science, robust theology, knowledge of the American religious landscape, love of God, and a commitment to strengthening the Church.

What is the process that will be used by Kairos and how long will it take?

Kairos begins with an online survey of the parish that seeks a high participation level. (For those without access to online resources, paper copies will be available.) The results are anonymously tabulated and analyzed. The congregation will be asked its opinions on a wide range of topics including the effectiveness of leadership.  In addition, Kairos will undertake individual meetings and small group meetings with members of the parish, as well as with community leaders in Needham to help us understand how we are perceived by others and how we can serve the community. Your active, open and honest participation in the process will make it the success we hope for. Thereafter, Kairos will analyze the information and prepare a report that will be available to the entire congregation. Because Kairos does not take a cookie cutter approach to exploring the driving factors that motivate congregations, the length of the process depends on what is revealed by the surveys and the interviews. Recommendations will rise from those places where there is most energy. The congregation will be invited to act on what has been discovered. The formal survey process will begin in September with the expectation that a report will be available prior to Annual Meeting in January. We will know more details later in the summer and we will keep you posted. Please keep an eye on the Weekly News for updates.  

How much does this all cost and where are we getting the money?

The cost for this exploration process is approximately $15,000. Because this is an investment in the future of Christ Church, funds from the endowment will used to pay the cost.

If I have more questions about this, what should I do?

Please feel free to contact any member of the Clergy, either Warden or any member of the Vestry.