November 2006 edition
On October 15, thirty-plus congregants joined together to create a list of congregational assets. When we think of assets, we usually think of financial matters. Really, defining an asset is pretty broad. The list below is gathered from the various table groups working to sketch out the various assets the congregation has in the broad categories of assets that are physical, individual, associational, institutions, economic. (We are indebted to the work of Luther K. Snow and his book The Power of Asset Mapping: How Your Congregation Can Act on Its Gifts, published by the Alban Institute).
Just marvel at what about three dozen folks generated in about twenty minutes of brainstorming together:
Congregational, Church building, community resource, ways to connect, AA, dinner, cloggers, tag sales, Bible school, pumpkin carving, minister, location, beautiful building, Singing, Sending cards to shut ins, Organizational, Gift with children, Carving, Cooking, Hospitality, Supportive, Listening, Teaching, Nursing, Social work, Computer, Video, Photography, People with money, Knitting, Reading, quilting, Nursing homes, flowers, cards, visitations, Legion, Veterans, Church Women United, RSVP, NASW, NSO, Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Elks, Moose, Legion, SVMC, VNH, VNA, RSVP, SVCU, Hospice, quilts, new baby of First Baptist, babysitting, parents’ night out, caroling, hymn sing, refreshments, list of volunteers, shoveling, raking leaves, Family, seniors, mentally ill, welcome center-tourist, schools, Delta Kappa Gamma, VRTA, Red Cross Blood Mobile, SVMC, neighbors, ABW, Woodford Cemetary Board, pets, Ham radio operators, Boards: Missions, Trustees, Missions, Volunteering within the church, transportation, welcome center, mentors, town of Bennington, BISCHCA, State of Vermont, Federal government, taxes, banks, sanctuary, chapel, kitchen, Colgate Hall, classrooms, location, handicapped-accessible (can be improved), church facilities (room to expand), budgeting, carpentry, cooks, teachers, administrating, interactions, knowing others, nursing skills, organizational skills, technology, faithfulness, horses/animals/skills, industrial, handyman, custodial, patience, willingness to accommodate, helping other groups, Red Cross shelter, Evening coffee shop, cooking class, poetry slam, play, building has lots of space for activities, dances, endowment account, (to get mission started), building up Sunday school, extra buildings, kitchen, Colgate hall, playroom, lounge, chapel, sanctuary, organ, congregation, location, business neighbors, talented people, landscaping, shut-ins, community-at-large, needy people, Red Cross (blood mobile), AA, Cloggers, Sunrise (Day Care Center), Animal shelters, hospital, RSVP, ABC VT/NH Region, UCS, organizational skills (to help with events), male cooks, singers (choir), musical talent, people-orientated people, teachers (education), animal care, nurses, crafts—knitting, individual missions (White Cross), child care workers, rummage sale, dinners, food vending, endowment, account, salaries, mission, building-up keep, fellowship fund, food pantry, church building, concerts, etc., Nichols Building (activities?), transportation (for shut-ins, for food, and projects made by others), ideas, people who can call others (shut-ins), clean ups, gardening, Interfaith Council (food/fuel fund, etc.), Red Cross and other community groups, meeting space for more groups, salaries, fuel, upkeep, products and literature for programs, apartment (former Gibney property), beautiful building, heat, Kitchen, Colgate Hall, lounge, chapel, organ, classrooms, nursery (babysitting), handicap accessibility, locality (Main Street), greeters, choir, Coffee hour hosts, Sunday School superintendent, Sunday School teachers, minister, scripture readers, janitor, callers (shut-in volunteers), deacons, trustees, secretary, treasurer, tellers, picture taking, sewing, White Cross helpers, help out for suppers, singing, teaching Sunday School, cooking for suppers, sending cards, good callers, good hostess, visiting shut-ins, flower arranging, Senior Center, Weight group, Bridge Club, Sewing Club, Al-Anon group, Bible Study, make lunches for homeless, more suppers for income, sewing (banner making), mitten tree, flower arrangement, gardening flowers, trees (decorated), soup and sandwiches (1 day/week), BYF, chapel
The second step of asset mapping is finding creative configurations for these assets to be woven together. The idea is to find things that do not readily appear to be related. For example, we could look at “male cooks, Colgate Hall, and dinners” and think “okay, we’ll get the men to cook something.” But throw in another asset like “shut-ins”, and suddenly, men are baking muffins for shut-ins. (Or more creatively,, we could reverse the order, and invite the shut-ins to bake muffins for church events. Bertha Greenawalt’s gift for sharing and cooking would suddenly spring to mind.) The table groups came up with some great ideas: a sewing/quilting workshop, using the church facility for Red Cross disaster relief (in addition to the traditional Red Cross blood mobile), inviting our children to help put on a Grandparents’ Day opportunity, inviting our elderly congregants to programming at the church on a regular basis, serving soup and sandwiches to the homeless on a weekly basis, holding a blessing of the animals service, creating a collection of animal care products for needy people, using endowments to create mission, providing tax help preparation through volunteers, knitting or quilting blankets/quilts for hospice or new babies, babysitting, Night-out for parents on Fridays, caroling, list of volunteers to do repairs/shoveling/raking leaves. Here’s a challenge: If you look at the big list of assets, what interesting arrangement of assets do you see? Remember, the trick is to shy away from the readily obvious pairings or joining of assets. Think laterally!
The third step is implementation! We hope that this exercise in asset mapping helps us see that indeed, the glass is half-full! We have A LOT TO GIVE for a congregation that might otherwise see itself as “small” or “diminished” or “aging.” You are invited as congregants, lay leaders, and persons invested in the future of First Baptist to start birthing new ministries that play our strengths. How can our 2007 calendar, budget, and ministry/mission focus implement some of the ideas generated above? How can we build a vision for 2007 that presumes growth, energy, and new heights?
The transition team invites your dialog and creativity as we plan for the future of First Baptist. We are indeed celebrating the journey, dreaming about the future, and becoming a people on the move!