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 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!
Anyone 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.
The 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.
Let’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 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.
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.
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.
Dear 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
Now 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.