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Story Florida congregation’s Future Story creates energy and hope

Florida congregation’s Future Story creates energy and hope

central-cc-orlandoIn the summer of 2014, Central Christian Church in Orlando, FL, came to the realization that they could not continue to function the way they had for years after the sudden loss of several strong spiritual, financial and administrative leaders for unrelated reasons.

Florida’s regional minister suggested to Central Christian’s Rev. Tuck Norvell that Hope Partnership’s ministry planning expertise might help steer them to the “something” they needed to do to shape their future for the better.

That something involved the creation of a “Future Story,” the articulation of a vision of what the church might look like in five years if they apply the principles they learn through a series of ministry-planning processes, which have recently been incorporated into Hope Partnership’s newly revamped Mission Pathways service. A self-led intentional planning process, Mission Pathways guides congregational leaders through assessment of current conditions and context, community interviewing, a retreat experience during which they create their Future Story that captures the congregation’s dream for its future, and the process of capacity-building designed to provide a clear action plan, followed by coaching.

According to Rev. Norvell, the congregation had determined that

“to be faithful to our call of service to God and to continue as a sustainable congregation, we must adapt from a culture that has passed us by and find new ways to be church.”

Once they engaged in Hope Partnership’s processes designed to help them envision those “new ways,” Central Orlando’s Future Story team was able to describe their church’s future vision as follows:

  • We have tackled tough issues and refocused on serving our community;
  • Our building exists to serve our community, not just to serve the congregation on Sundays;
  • Our community comes freely inside the church and the church is outside in our community;
  • We reach out to Millennials through technology and attract them to our church.


The team asked their board with the help of the congregation to explore a number of nonbinding ideas that came out of their envisioning work:

  • Remodel the sanctuary to be more adaptable
  • Focus on hospitality
  • Reach out to Millennials through ministry and technology
  • Focus on mission and community partnership
  • Change the name of our church to reflect its location


Rev. Norvell emphasizes that the unifying theme of their Future Story is relationships.

“We are seeking to build new relationships with different groups so that our church can flourish.” He adds, “To firm new relationships, the church needs new infrastructure, new bridges, and we need to tear down old obstacles. The Future Story is our attempt to rethink church, in our specific context, so that new relationships can give new life to the church.” Finally, he states, “The process of missional transformation is an intentional rejection of self-preservation practices and a recovery of the original purpose of the church—to spread the gospel and serve God’s people.”

Rev. Norvell is pleased to report that their Future Story has generated much positive energy from the board and congregation with a commitment to continue the work of the team.

“I am sure there will be struggles ahead, but the very fact that no one ran screaming from the room left our team very hopeful for how this will play out in the long run.”

Please contact Gilberto Collazo at gcollazo@hopepmt.org with questions or if you think your congregation would benefit from this service.