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Continuing our conversation

Jen Smith
Council President

Thank you to all who took the time to engage in discussion at the All Commission meeting on September 23. We had an excellent representation of commission leaders as well as staff and other programs supported by St. Johns including Lutefisk, Creation Kids Preschool, and Food for Friends. It is my hope that each commission will continue the conversations we started. We discussed strengths and challenges of St. John’s as well as ways to empower each of out commissions to carry out the work identified by each. Looking forward, we challenge each commission to review the minutes from this meeting (coming soon! watch the weekly enews and other publications for the link) and discuss strategies to utilize our strengths to overcome our challenges. Each of you were left with homework. We have asked each commission to identify: “What is most important right now?” and “Who must do what?” To be successful, these two questions must be asked by all of us on a regular basis. As we complete tasks and transition through the seasons of the church, these answers will change. I encourage each of you to see where your time and talents can be shared with St. Johns. Together, we can live as witnesses of Jesus Christ and serve the many programs and ministries of St. John’s. Continue to prayerfully reflect all that you see God doing through us.

In addition to the minutes from the meeting, you can also review the packet that was distributed at the meeting.

What will St. John’s look like going forward?

Pastor John Allen
Interim Pastor

I’ve heard it recognized a number of times, “this interim is different than the others before it.” I hope it is, because that difference is intentional. When it is complete, we will have spent about eighteen months reflecting, analyzing, dreaming, and visioning. Of course, the main expectation is that you will call a new “settled” senior pastor, and possibly an additional pastor after that. But, what else should we expect for the future. What difference will you see for the effort made?

There is a book called The Unstuck Church. In it, author Tony Morgan describes stages of growth and decline that congregations experience in their natural lives. The title implies that congregations or ministries can get stuck in any of those stages, and it takes vision, insight, and perseverance to move from one stage to a healthier one. Morgan labels the seven stages: Launch, Momentum Growth, Strategic Growth, Sustained Health, Maintenance, Preservation, and Life-Support. Honestly speaking, St. John’s most likely fits the description of “Maintenance,” meaning we’re working pretty hard just to keep the status quo.

Our vision for the future, however, borrows some of the best attributes of a momentum growth congregation, to jump start a path to sustained health. Imagine this being the description of St. John’s ministry:

  1. We will have an “outward focus.” That is, we will not be “unashamed about [our] desire to reach people for Jesus.”
  2. “There’s a lot of buzz.” We will be known in the community by word-of-mouth.
  3. “Creativity and innovation (therefore change) will be expected.” We will be “risk driven.”
  4. We will be “driven by personality.” For better or worse, the ministry will often be identified with the senior pastor, but we will “multiply the voices and personalities that carry out the ministry strategy.”
  5. We will “begin to focus [our] vision.” We will “mark out the specifics of where [our] ministries are heading in the future. There will always be “a new mountain the ministry team intends to take on.”
  6. We will “begin to give leadership away.” We will “recognize the one person can’t call all the shots.” We will seek out and raise up leaders within the congregation.

This sounds a lot like what your congregation council and transition team have been working on. It describes an exciting future, “unstuck” and moving forward. This is my hope and prayer for you. May God so inspire and ordain it.

God Bless.

What did you say in the transition activity?

At the annual meeting, the Transition Team shared what they learned from the activity the congregation went through in November. The team worked hard to compile everything that YOU, the members of the congregation told them without interpreting it yet. The next step will including interpreting the information and determining, “What does this mean?”

Much of the information they shared can be found in the report below:

Congregational Input Days

RevisionRevampPlan to be at worship on Wednesday, April 27 or Sunday, May 1 for a visioning process!

We will share the scripture readings and sermon in a participatory style. Scripture passages will be presented and each person will be asked to mark a card indicating her or his choices of interpretation in response to the passages.

After sharing communion, along with prayer, we will engage everyone in a casual conversation of what is valued at
St. Johns, asking three simple questions:

  • Past: What is a time or specific event that spiritually touched you where you felt most alive in your faith journey?
  • Present: What is it about your congregation that you value most ?
  • Future: If God gave you three wishes for the future of your congregation, what would they be?

Do some praying about your participation with this experience and some reflecting on these perspectives ahead of time. One of our goals with the Revision Revamp 2016 process is for full congregation input into where we trust that God is leading us, the missional directions that are given for the next five years as a congregation. We are not there yet. We are striving to listen well. We are gathering input.