Editor’s Note: The Communication Implementation Team at First Baptist Church has been divided into two smaller teams: one focusing on communication outside the church and the other focusing on communication inside the church. These two teams are lovingly referred to as “The A Team,” and “The B Team.” Steve Martin is Captain of the A Team, and he and his fellow team members have been developing a strategy for communicating the mission and identity of First Baptist to those outside the church. I’ve included the “Background” section below. The full document may be accessed by clicking the link at the bottom of this page (and it has pictures!).
Richmond’s First Baptist Church [FBC], established in downtown Richmond in 1780, is now located on the corner of Monument Avenue and The Boulevard, a major intersection in Richmond’s Museum District. The current senior pastor is the Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville, formerly pastor of the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C.
FBC is a “Big Tent” church that relates to both the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)
and the theologically moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship [CBF]. Giving plans are offered that allow members to choose how their contributions that support these entities are routed.
FBC offers two traditional Sunday services, one at 8:30 a.m. and the other at 11:00. With the exception of the 11 a.m. services on Palm Sunday and Easter, and the four Sundays of Advent, which are broadcast live, a service is broadcast beginning at 11 o’clock on Richmond’s ABC television station affiliate, WRIC, on a one-week delayed basis. However, both services can be viewed live on the Internet and can be accessed from the FBC website.
Most aspects of FBC reflect traditional Baptist churches, including Sunday school classes
for children and adults that take place between the two worship services, dinner followed
by programs on Wednesday evenings, and many programs at other times throughout the week. FBC also is home to a preschool from September to June.
Since Dr. Somerville’s arrival in Richmond, he has drawn attention to Jesus’ emphasis on the Kingdom of God and to his conviction that Jesus wanted his disciples not just to pray for the Kingdom to come, but to work diligently to bring it to reality. Dr. Somerville has asked FBC members to consider themselves on a mission to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia. A mnemonic device–KOH2RVA (Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond Virginia)–has helped to embed this firmly in the minds of FBC members.
During 2016 FBC became engaged in a visioning process, called 2020 Vision, the purpose of which is to create guidance for the Church for the next several years. The process
began with a conversation with Bill Wilson, President of the Center for Healthy Churches, who listened to deacons’ concerns about the decline of the American church. Wilson believes that churches that are clear about their identity and their mission can thrive even in times like these.
This document reflects a step in the 2020 Vision process. It seeks to identify and articulate a clear objective to guide FBC’s outbound communications, as well as an overall strategy and supporting tactics most likely to lead to the accomplishment of that objective.
As part of the 2020 Vision process, information was solicited and received from members
concerning what attracted them to the church, why they stay, and how they view FBC.
Of particular importance with respect to outbound communications, “Preaching” was the main attraction that originally brought people to FBC, but “Fellowship & Community” are the top reasons people remain members.
Moreover, members consider the core traits of FBC to be “Diversity & Acceptance” followed closely by “Love & Compassion.”
Clearly, members of FBC of all stripes feel loved. This is the primary personal benefit
that keeps them in the fold.
(for the full document, click this link: Communication Plan, Draft 3)