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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 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.

We all have different gifts & styles of serving

Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

In the midst of a busy end-of-program-year season, Amanda and I were able to take a few hours a month ago to attend the Twin Cities Faith Formation Network in Lakeville with children, youth, and family workers and volunteers. The topic for the day was all about engaging volunteers in the congregation, not just in youth ministry. The first speaker, Nancy Thompson, spoke about how important it is to recruit and develop volunteers and leaders, not just to start and develop programs. She noted in particular how important it is to build and grow relationship, both with other people and with God. In her talk, she spoke about how important it is to find the right fit for volunteers to help them succeed. In her way of thinking there are four levels for people to volunteer at, and she also highlighted the importance of each one.

Serving = this is an entry level volunteer position; easy, not long term, low investment. Examples: greeters, supply room coordinator, room coordinators, service project supply person, anything that can be done on own time.

Shepherding = a position that involves giving care to others, more involvement than serving level, the next step in investing in community. Examples: nursery caregivers, large group hosts (think bereavement representatives at a funeral), technology helpers.

Teaching = higher level of commitment, more preparation ahead of time, direct engagement with groups of people. Examples: small group leaders, Sunday School/Oasis teachers, leading a women’s or men’s group.

Leading = those who advocate for programs, chair events, high capacity volunteers. Examples: congregational council, chair of commission, transition team, all members of commissions.

As the speaker finished up I began to realize just how important it is to help everyone find the right level for investment in our community. In 1 Corinthians 12:4 Paul reminds us that there are different kinds of gifts, but one Spirit who distributes them. We all have different gifts that can be used to the glory of God. I have been working on changing my thinking so that I notice in a different way. Where do you notice gifts that you could use? Or maybe gifts in another? How can we help each other grow those gifts? How can we empower, equip, and encourage one another? Rather than trying to fill the voids that we have in programming, what if instead we worked from a place of abundance? What are you abundant in? How might you share that gift to the glory of God? God has given us all amazing, but different gifts! Let’s figure out how to use them together!

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.

Bring your backpacks!

backpackAnyone returning to school – students of any age, teachers, school employees, anyone – is invited to bring a backpack or bag to worship September 13 or 16 for a blessing of the backpacks.

Sing with the choir!

Conducter's Hands and WandThe St. John’s Senior Choir and their director Clark Johnson would like to invite you to join us in singing in choir this fall. The choir is always excited to receive new members ages high school and older. We would ask that you make an initial commitment to sing through December. The choir will sing four services a month at the 8:00 and 10:15 worship services and an occasional Wednesday night service.

The Senior Choir will begin the year with a rehearsal on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, from 6:45-7:40 pm. Please come and join this wonderful group of musicians.

If you have any questions, please call choir director Clark Johnson at (507) 635-5465.

Walking through Holy Week

RandyFettLet’s talk about Holy Week. Christians celebrate Holy Week in order to remember the steps that our Lord Jesus took to gain salvation for us. If you ask someone which week is the most important week of the year for the Christian, this is it. Some would say that it is Christmas. Christmas is just the beginning. Gospel writer John says that “the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” We celebrate Jesus’ incarnation, God in the flesh with us, but the culmination of our faith, the grand celebration, is Holy Week. It’s  Jesus’ triumphal entry into the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and we claim this as Jesus’ institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday, at the 3:00 hour, (stop for a moment to pray on Friday, April 3 to remember our Lord Jesus’  death on the cross), and it is Easter, celebrating Jesus’ triumph over sin, death, and the grave, Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb, (and so we proclaim “Hallelujah! Jesus lives! No more let sin and sorrow grow.”). Last year we added a remembrance of the Passover meal on Holy Wednesday, the actual meal that Jesus shared with his disciples, in a very special Seder worship service around the tables in the Fellowship Hall. This year we are asking for volunteers to make contributions for the specific foods of the Passover. Please make your reservation for the meal at the Welcome Center or in the office.

I encourage you to make use of the services of Holy Week, each of them, all of them. It is an important part of our Christian spiritual journey. And bring a friend to worship with you. Bring a guest family. As spring peaks its head around the corner and we experience warmer weather, many families will be firing up the barbecue for the first time and kids will be playing out in the streets. I was with my son and family recently. The weather was warm, and the whole neighborhood was out. I was amazed at how many people stopped by to chat. The gospels record that followers found the tomb of Jesus empty; they were greeted with good news that Jesus was raised. The coldness of Good Friday was over. The sun broke through on Easter morning. They could hardly wait to tell everyone that they met. It was the climax, the culmination of Holy Week. Things were now complete. Salvation had been won for us. Celebrate Holy Week as a family. Bring your friends.

Pastor Randy

Monday Evening Supper Events

Pastor Randy will be hosting weekly Monday evening supper get-togethers at the church for eight family units from each of the monthly service group lists during the summer months. Plan on a 6:30 pm picnic supper followed by fun and games, an input conversation of the mission of our church, and a short worship service. More details will follow. The goal is to see this summer outreach to our member families, and as a way to get better acquainted.

Mission Possible!

RandyFettFriends, what is the mission of the church? The church has asked this question ever since the day of Jesus Christ. The church was founded on Christ’s death and resurrection, on God’s plan of salvation. Nowadays with all the challenges that we face in culture, throughout the world, and even in the church we ask if this mission is even possible. This month we engage the belief that “yes, it is possible.” Invite people to church, invite them to join you in your work groups, ministry teams, events, or studies.

“We are a faith – filled community, welcoming, inspiring, serving, and reaching out through the love of God.” We have so much to offer. Each of us is a Christ engaging presentation of the mission. Now “Go,” as Jesus says, “Go, and do mission.”

On Sunday, the 2nd we remember all of those saints in our community who have died in the past year, from the 2nd-12th we will do a survey on summer worship, on the 9th we share in the women’s Thank Offering service and vote on Amanda’s AIM call, on Sunday, the 2rd we dedicate all the memorials that were given in the past year, and on Thanksgiving eve, the 26th, we worship at 6:30 p.m.

God bless you,

Pastor Randy

President’s Perspective: Council members are great resources

Do things ever get lost in plain sight at your house? It happens fairly regularly at ours. Someone will be searching high and low for the ranch dressing, for example, only to have someone else point it out, front and center, in the refrigerator.

I think sometimes that happens at church, too. We tend to lose sight of resources that are in plain sight. I’d like to walk you through one of those resources. As you go down the hall past the office toward the sacristy, you see pictures on the wall. Pr Randy’s photograph is there, as are previous pastors’ photographs. The picture I’d like to point out is the one of all of our church council members. I think this is a resource that often gets overlooked while this team of people is working in plain sight.

2014 Council

2014 Council accompanied by Pastor Randy, Pastor Nirmala, Amanda, and Ben

This group of people was nominated and voted on by you, the congregation of St. John’s. They were recruited deliberately, to represent all congregational ages and populations. Council members are involved with St. John’s far beyond one Council meeting a month. They are generous with their time and talents in a variety of ways, some more visible than others. They are truly God’s hands and feet, at work for all of us here at St. John’s.

You see them serving communion and meals, but you may not see their service on a variety of Commissions/Pillars. They willingly share their knowledge and expertise to provide guidance and support to staff. They are tireless supporters of St. John’s and unwavering in their dedication to make the best possible decisions for our church, even when those decisions are tough.

If you have questions or concerns, please don’t miss the forest for the trees. Take advantage of the valuable resource you have available to you in Council members. Ask us your questions. We will be happy to share the information we have, or bring concerns back to Council as a whole. If we don’t have an answer, we will work to get one.

Thank you for praying for all of us as Council members of St. John’s. We appreciate your support.

Blessings,

Jakki Trihey
Council President

 

Thank You from Pastor Randy

PrRandy30thDear Council, Congregation of St. John’s, and WELCA:

Thanks for hosting the 30th Anniversary of my Ordination Coffee.  It is a blessing to serve with you, our gifted Staff, and countless volunteers. God bless you all! – Pastor Randy

 

Considering a Bible Study?

biblestudyNow is a great time to connect to one or more of our Bible study groups. There are opportunities for both men and women at various times throughout the week and at different times of day and locations. WELCA Bible studies, Men’s breakfast studies, Women of Faith, a new Pastor-led Bible study starting this month, 2 x 4 (an offsite Men’s Group) – these are just some of the opportunities.