St. Philip Lutheran Church

Myrtle Beach, SC

Forward in Faith Vision and Plan Summary

Finance and Stewardship
Why is this a goal?
Historically through the decades, St. Philip has been a giving congregation. Buildings were paid for shortly after they were built. Multiple full-time staff members were employed and maintenance and mission were taken care of. Currently, the people of St. Philip give to special items like a roof, new chairs, disaster relief, and nonprofits in the area. Yet, the congregation rarely is able to meet bills and payroll without digging heavily into limited savings. Maintenance and mission suffer due to lack of funds. 

What is going to be different moving forward?
Throughout 2018, we will reduce our financial expenditures looking at actual, current needs. Along with this, the Finance Team will explore ways of teaching generosity for the sake of God and discipleship. We will also explore and expand options by which one can give to ministry, such as e-giving. We will encourage giving and tithing for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of one’s own discipleship, resulting in a growth of ministry and mission. Savings will no longer be used to support routine bills. 

Mission and Outreach
Why is this a goal?
St. Philip is a long-established congregation, visible in the community throughout the years. It has started ministries that continue to serve people to this day. At present, few congregation members engage in ministry outside the walls of the building. Donations are made quarterly to some benevolences while a handful of members give of their time at Helping Hand or other charities on regular occasion. 

What is going to be different moving forward?
Organized events to serve our neighbor will create an easy, yet fulfilling way for all to participate in tangible and loving ways. The community of Myrtle Beach will see us as an important light in service and ministry. We will be Christ’s hands and feet in the world, visible to all as a tangible sign of Christ’s love.

Youth and Families
Why is this a goal?
St. Philip has a tradition of reaching out to families, youth, and children, in addition to housing a preschool. The past few decades have seen decline in involvement as well as connection to the congregation. Few new programs and ideas are implemented. Many events are held but are poorly attended. Little emphasis or planning is given to involvement in the life of the church. Faith formation and discipleship are not emphasized. Many congregations with a youth group the size of St. Philip’s do not pay for a staffed youth position, but rely on the pastor and volunteers to run programming. 

What is going to be different moving forward?
We will invite, welcome, and engage youth, children, and families as important pieces of the life of St. Philip through relationship, Christian formation, and involvement. Youth and families will participate in all aspects of congregational life. In the midst of a chaotic world, we will help ground them and nurture them in faith, empowering them for ministry in their lives and with the congregation, utilizing the gifts of volunteers and the pastor.

Worship and Music
Why is this a goal?
St. Philip has been host to many talented musicians through the decades. The music has been a driving force in worship, inspiring members in their lives of faith. The organ was renovated in the early 1990s to further support music and worship. Today, worship is adequate and adheres to Lutheran tradition. Musically, there is not much deviation or creativity, nor much growth in variety or number of participants. Handbells, youth choirs, and diverse music styles are rarely implemented. 

What is going to be different moving forward?
Our worship, aided greatly by a variety of music, hymns, choirs, and instrumentalists, will help us experience God’s holy presence in joy and awe. The talents of children and adults will be included for the glory of God. Worship will be a launching point for the week ahead, full of reminders of God’s joy, love, and grace, sending us out into the world to serve. 

St. Philip Preschool
Why is this a goal?
St. Philip Preschool has been around for over 50 years, teaching generations of children, many of whom now send their own children. Effort has been made in connecting church and school, including merging of finances, instituting “Preschool Sunday,” and an engaged Pastor. However, much about the preschool is similar to how it was decades ago. There is moderate connection between church and school, though old habits are hard to break. The preschool often runs a deficit because of overstaffing and under-enrollment, which St. Philip subsidizes. 

What is going to be different moving forward?
St. Philip Preschool will support and be active in the mission of the church. The congregation will see the preschool as an important ministry in and to the community. St. Philip Preschool will be renewed with mission and connection to St. Philip Lutheran Church at the core. Quality education will remain at the forefront of their purpose.

Forward in Faith Document

Near the beginning of 2017, the Congregation Council of St. Philip Lutheran Church began to sense the need for a long-term visioning process. There were many conversations over several Council meetings about the state of the church. General consensus saw things in the church and congregation as fine. The congregation had come out of a long period of decline and stagnation; ministry had finally started to turn toward a better, more hopeful future.

Looking at the answers and comments from the congregation, many themes, ideas, and hopes were seen and shared. The themes were grouped and organized. From those groupings, and using all that had been discussed, studied, and learned, Council selected the five most important places St. Philip should reimagine in order to move forward as a church in the 21st Century. 

The areas of focus are: Finance and Stewardship; Mission and Outreach; Youth and Families; Worship and Music; and St. Philip Preschool. A brief summary of each area and its vision will be in a following section. Additionally, a full explanation and overview of the vision, as well as Action Steps the congregation and Council will take, is included.