The FAPC Strategic Plan was approved by the Session in December 2013. We invite you to read the plan on these pages. Or you may download the full plan here.
Who we are as a congregation—and where we are going.
Our Starting Point
Jesus’ most famous (and longest!) sermon was preached on a quiet mountainside to a gathering of his closest followers. The Sermon on the Mount inspires the vision of this church and is the foundational text of our Strategic Plan.
In the Sermon on the Mount:
Jesus offers the Beatitudes—a moving description of people who are blessed by God.
Matthew 5:3-12 & Luke 6:20-26
Christ teaches the disciples how to pray, and he gives them the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:9-15 & Luke 11:1-4
Christ instructs his followers to be righteous and not judgmental;courageous and not fearful; and above all, generous in extending love—even to our enemies.
Matthew 7:1-5; Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:37-42; Luke 6:27-36
- Jesus exhorts his followers to carry the Gospel to a world hungry for good news. Those who bear witness to God’s truth in this manner are called “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”
Matthew 5:13-16 & Luke 11:33-36
- Later, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to “leaven”—a small substance that lifts and transforms many measures of flour.
Matthew 13:33 & Luke 13:21
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church continues to find inspiration in these core teachings.
- We believe that God keeps calling us to bless those around us: especially the meek, the pure in heart, the grieving, the poor, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, the persecuted and the merciful.
- We persist in prayer.
- We strive to share the good news—the Gospel—that in Jesus Christ, God is with us and for us, reconciling the world to himself! 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
- We believe that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ—ministers of reconciliation bringing “light,” “leaven” and “salt” to this world.
This is the challenging and rewarding path that Christ beckons us to travel.
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church exists to proclaim, to be shaped by, and to live out the good news of Jesus Christ.
We will be Christ’s light, leaven and salt in New York City and beyond.
- We aim to be light—shining a beacon of sacred hope for all who seek meaning and purpose for their lives; for all who are lost and walk in dark places; for all who are looking to embark on or continue the journey of faith.
- We aspire to be leaven—uplifting and transforming people’s lives through inspiring worship, thoughtful study and compassionate service.
- We strive to be salt—building community and engaging New York City, seasoning this corner of God’s world with Christ’s grace and love.
1. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will become an “inviting church.”
Historically, FAPC has placed a high priority on being a “welcoming church.” We believe that Christian hospitality and friendship should be extended to everyone who walks through our doors. We act on this belief: “All Are Welcome!”
Welcoming is important, but it is not enough. Our faith also calls us to be inviting. Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to “fish” for other human beings—to issue invitations to those who hunger for an authentic relationship with God.
Like the early disciples, FAPC will become a community of invitation: We will place a priority on inviting others to “try church” in a way that is honest, respectful and joyful. We will learn to overcome our own fears about talking about our faith in public. We will train ourselves to invite others in winsome ways. We will approach this calling in ways that are both true to ourselves and to our reformed heritage.
2. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will become a “sticky church.”
As we open our front doors wider through invitational initiatives, we also need to close the back door. We must ask: Are new members finding a place? Are congregants feeling more and more engaged, more and more at home, more and more connected here? Are longer-term members being stimulated and encouraged to grow in their faith and take on leadership roles?
To borrow an image from Larry Osborne’s book Sticky Church, we need to increase and enhance the opportunities for people to “velcro” themselves to FAPC and grow in the faith.
3. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will seek a deeper knowledge of God, ourselves and the world.
We will provide engaging programs that create a firm foundation in the Christian faith for all ages and stages of belief; we will welcome questions and doubts; we will challenge assumptions—
all in order to encounter the living God, and find a faith that helps us understand and engage our world.
Adult Education, Sunday School and the Youth Group will implement classes and programs that strengthen our faith foundation, and enhance our understanding of the Bible and the reformed tradition. Our educational programs are key “invitational” and “sticky” opportunities. As such, they should take into consideration the various places people are on their faith journeys.
4. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will, through our outreach efforts, bring transformative change to our community, the wider world and our own hearts.
Our church has a long tradition of reaching out to neighbors in need. We provide support through monetary grants, the giving of time and talents, and pastoral care. We recognize that outreach is not just helping those with material requirements, but also serving those with spiritual needs, both within and outside our church family.
The way FAPC provides outreach is changing in exciting ways. We are moving away from simply writing benevolence checks to seeking true partnership in outreach with local, national and international entities.
There is much we can learn from these institutions and individuals. We are confident that our new focus will increase the depth of these relationships and the effectiveness of our mission efforts.
Clearly, outreach is one of the key ways that our members live their faith. Our outreach programs provide important “invitational” and “sticky” opportunities for visitors, new members and long-term members by strengthening personal bonds and drawing them deeper into the life of the community.
5. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will preserve and strengthen its long-term financial health.
Over the last several years, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church has made enormous strides toward securing its long-term financial health. With the Session passing a balanced budget amendment in 2010, we have reduced the church’s dependency on the endowment by dramatically increasing the percentage of the budget funded by pledge revenues, from 18% per year in 1994 to 53% in 2013.
Money for money’s sake is not the goal, but healthy and sustainable budgets and a secure endowment are important means to an end, serving to help fund the church’s mission, acting as a potential safety net in times of economic downturn, and aiding in the preservation of our beautiful buildings for future generations.
6. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will upgrade our physical resources to most effectively pursue our mission.
Our former senior pastor Dr. Bryant Kirkland was famous for saying, “You can’t go it alone in New York City.” New Yorkers need a safe, secure and hospitable place that provides an oasis for sharing God’s love amidst the hustle and bustle. Surrounded by towers of steel and glass, our church has stood tall in its current location for nearly 140 years.
Constant investment, however, is required to maintain this grand brownstone building. Prudent care of our facility now will allow us to continue our effective ministries into the future in ways that are consistent with our mission, vision and values, and with the other initiatives launched in this Strategic Plan. This initiative will begin with the immediate infrastructure improvements required and will be funded by the recommended capital campaign.
7. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will enthusiastically pursue the revitalization of the wider Presbyterian Church.
North American Christianity is in the midst of a sea change. Over the last 20 years, in every corner of this country and across the theological spectrum (from conservative to progressive), American churches have experienced a decline in membership and worship attendance. At the same time, and in many of the same places, new Christian communities are being formed. They bring fresh vitality to the faith.
In the midst of all this change, we believe our reformed tradition offers a perspective that remains valuable, needs to be heard and can change lives. Our revitalization efforts will begin locally, in New York City, with projects such as the Mustard Seed Ministry. We will learn from our efforts. We will plant and plant again, and share our learning with others across our denomination and beyond.
We will assist in the training of new ministers and leaders for existing churches and for the churches that God will call into being. We will be relentlessly optimistic about the future of Christ’s Church!